If you decide that a writing group is for you, how do you find one? Or, if you can’t find one, how do you establish one?
Support groups are easy. You search online for “Writers Associations.” Here’s a link that lists many: http://writersrelief.com/writers-associations-organizations/ Or you can search for a particular genre, like Horror Writer Associations. For more local support groups, search “Writers Groups, Your Local Area.” You usually join such groups just by paying dues, although some have membership requirements.
Discussion & Critique groups are different. There are online groups that fill these roles. Search “online writing groups.” But I prefer a local and physical group myself. To find them you can try several things. 1) if your support group has a local chapter, there may be Discussion and Critique groups that spin off of that. Also check local libraries and bookstores. Most will have a newsletter or “calendar of events” that lists any writing group meetings. You can also contact local universities, where there may be writing groups. Many bigger towns will have restaurants and bars with “open mic nights,” where people come to read their poetry and prose. This might be a good place to meet like-minded writers who might know of groups.
You can always start a brand new group! To do so, you first call an “interest” meeting. Set it up through the local library or bookstore. Promote it with flyers at libraries, bookstores, community centers, churches, or anywhere the public might see. Below is a sample call for an “interest” meeting:
“Are you interested in writing? Would you like to join a group of people with similar interests? Join us at 2:00 on January 23, 2015 at the Covington Branch of the St. Tammany Library system for an introductory meeting. Email Jake Smith, Jsmith43@hotmail.com for further information.”
Some things to think about before calling such a meeting:
a. which type of group do you want? Discussion or Critique.
b. what type of writing? Poetry, Mystery, Memoir, etc., or all of them.
c. how many members do you want? How many can you live with?
d. where will you meet? Look at Libraries, bookstores, churches, community centers.
Note: the more specific the group, the fewer people you’ll attract. I’ve never been in a group that was specific to SF/Fantasy/Horror, which I mostly write. I don’t mind because I write a bit of everything and I like being in a group with people who have diverse interests. In a diverse group, though, it’s critical that members be capable of appreciating other genres and not look down on them.
As far as numbers goes. Support groups = the more the better. Discussion groups = no more than 10 to 15. Critique groups = even fewer, 5 to 8, although it depends on how much members submit. The more each member submits, the fewer you should have.
For the first meeting: find out who is interested, what kind of group they want, what they want to get out of a group. Then, focus on good times and locations for meetings. Some meet at a member’s home. I suggest a neutral site.