Writing can be a solitary experience, but it doesn’t have to be. Finding or setting up a group for writers can be a way to share your experiences, share your work, receive feedback, learn to critique, and hone your craft. I have put together some articles and YouTube videos with advice on setting up a writer’s group that I hope you will find helpful.
- 6 Writing Group Best Practices: How to Lead a Successful Writers Group – Writer’s Digest (writersdigest.com)
This article from Writer’s Digest shares 6 best practices to consider when starting and leading a writer’s group. Limiting your group size is a good idea as people will become comfortable with one another and there will be time to allow everyone the time to share and critique. When making decisions about the group, go with the majority rules. It won’t always suit everyone but this way, it suits most. Sharing work and feedback, and accepting feedback is part of the group. Build trust and rapport and remember you are in a safe space. Commit yourself to the group. You’ll only get out what you put in.
This short article is straight to the point. Advertise, choose a meeting site and time, and ask people to commit to this. There’s no point in having members that only show up once every three months. Consider sending work to be assigned at least four days before the meeting. Having meeting guidelines can help people engage and participate, and having an agenda can keep people on track. Be prepared to continually evaluate and renew how the group is working.
Bustle tells us that while writing can be a solitary activity, being part of a writer’s community can be a great way to motivate yourself, give and receive support from other writers, and receive feedback on your own work. Every writing group is different so take these tips as suggestions. Have open discussions about how the writer’s group is going to function, and be realistic about time commitments, it’s better to meet once a month and have more people commit than have only a couple of people show up for a weekly meeting. Depending on the group size, decide if it’s feasible to critique everyone’s work at each meeting. Maybe discussing just two writers wrote works better. This article also suggests meeting up in non-writing situations too, this helps to build the bonds between you. Consider having meetings where you write together, whether it’s doing prompts or just your own thing.
This article takes a slightly different angle and warns of the 4 hidden dangers of writing groups. But it also offers fixes! Sometimes people critiquing don’t tell the truth – only give praise and vague criticism that isn’t very actionable. This can be dangerous as writers may plow on creating fundamentally flawed work. Speaking the truth yet with kindness is much more productive for the writer to learn and improve their craft. Sometimes struggling writers aren’t the best judges of struggling writing. This article offers a way to offer truly candid feedback following four questions. Failure is part of the writing process and sometimes writing groups tend to exclusively celebrate forward progress. It’s important to talk about and acknowledge failure too.
The Write Practice shares 5 tips to create a writer’s group that lasts. Participating in a writer’s group can help you improve your skills and give you support when you need it. Some of the tips from The Write Practice include keeping your group small. By doing this it’s easier to maintain a safe environment where people feel safe sharing work and challenges. Choosing writers at a similar level works best in a group. Each will have different strengths and perspectives and write in different genres. You’ll be able to support each other through common struggles for writers at the same stage. Keeping the group flexible s important too. Don’t get too ambitious with meetings that are too regular and difficult to commit to. Set clear guidelines for feedback and show respect.
Writing groups are wonderful if you plan them well and set up clear expectations from the beginning. Learn exactly how to do that for your group.
Writing can be a lonely activity and one of the best things a writer can do, both to combat this isolation and to help with the development and improvement of their writing, is to join a writing group. This video looks at the ways a writers’ group can handle feedback.
Now that you have a writing group learn how to set it up so it runs smoothly.
Sharing work and feedback is all part of the learning process that comes with being a writer. Being in a safe space with like-minded people can be a fantastic place to learn your craft and create a community with other writers. I am in an online community called Writer’s Ink which is just the most amazing tribe, full of writers from across the world, writing in all kinds of genres. The group is led by Vanessa Fox O’Loughlin (aka Sam Blake, bestselling author) and Maria McHale (lifestyle coach and journalist). Here is a link to find out more Writers’ Ink Online Writing Group – Writing.ie
I hope you have found this week’s column useful. As always please get in touch if there are any topics you would like me to cover.
(c) Lucy O’Callaghan