Sunday, December 21, 2014

Part 3: Finding a Group, or Creating One

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:  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, 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. 



Snowbrush said...

I used to join writing groups but haven't felt the desire in decades.

Cloudia said...

Very practical and useful information!

ALOHA from Honolulu

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Charles, thanks for a helpful post about writing groups. It never occurred to me to look online though I'd have liked to attend a physical group closer home. LinkedIn has a few such professional groups with a lot of healthy discussion about the art of writing this, that and the other.

BernardL said...

The part about numbers in a group might become a point of contention. I could see it being very important, depending on the type of group, for there to be a cutoff point in size. That would get tricky if response is much greater than expected. :)

Unknown said...

I tried a writing group once. The blood-sucking egos that demanded feeding were beyond my capacities for endurance. (Of course, my ego was not that needy. No, of course not. Not me!) I think the composition of the group was all wrong. That, however, is the luck of the draw. And that leads to what should be the first commandment of writing groups: If the group is filled with vampires, leave immediately and find another group!

Charles Gramlich said...

Snowbrush, Still enjoying mine.

Cloudia, thankee.

Prashant, I've seen lots of online groups and was a member of one a long time ago. I find physical groups better for me.

Bernard, yes, it's easy to get too large a group. We finally closed our group to any new members and there were some hurt feelings.

R.T., I've been in a group before with a vampire. We ended up kicking another vampire out of our current group.

Oscar Case said...

I was in an on-line group for a short while but there weren't many submissions, so I dropped out.

Riot Kitty said...

Hmm, interesting. I've never considered it being broken down into more than one type of writing group!

Sarah Hina said...

I still haven't taken the writing group plunge, but this is a great tutorial, Charles.

I also wanted to thank you for posting your Amazon review of my book. It was a delightful surprise, and I was truly touched.

Thank you, and I hope you and Lana have the best of holidays this year.

Brian Miller said...

this is probably the most important part....the choice...and you have to know what you want...and establish the expectations of the group...and make sure everyone agrees....

Charles Gramlich said...

Oscar, unfortunate when you don't get submissions for review.

Riot Kitty, well, I've been in all three different kinds.

Sarah, I had posted the review on goodreads long ago but didn't realize I hadn't put it on Amazon.

SzélsőFa said...

I don't think there is such as 'too many members', for with few members, people may get used to each others' mistakes and tend to ignore them. Hm?

sage said...

Thanks to your ideas, I googled and found several groups in our area--one looks promising, but I am already committed on the time for their next meeting.

Charles Gramlich said...

Szelsofa, for person to person meetings there can definitely be too many members. Everyone needs their time but if you have ten or fifteen members they just won't get that time. Online is different, of course. With physical group meetings, having more members also means a much harder time finding a place to meet.

Sage, we had to shift things around to find a time suitable to all. It isn't easy.