Thursday, September 10, 2009

How Writing Groups Can Help You Stay on Track

I'm probably biased because I'm president of my local writer's group that I also co-founded with another writing friend, but it's hard for me to imagine where my freelancing efforts (not to mention my fledgling writing career) would be had I not gotten involved with such a group.

Our group is a bit more formal and structured than, say, a critique group (though we have a few of those who meet outside of our regular meeting times). The purpose of our group is to provide programming and resources to our members so they can be armed with the tools they need to get (and keep) writing. One of my favorite parts of my role in the group is scheduling our speakers. We've had a huge array of folks come and share their knowledge with us--we have a wide membership, so we try to include speakers for everyone and cover as many genres and aspects of the craft as possible. The majority of our membership are fiction writers, so most of our programming focuses on elements of writing fictional pieces, but we try to work in something for us nonfiction folks, too.

If you don't have a writer's group in your area, why not start one? There are a few other groups near me, and they follow various structures. Here are the most common types of writers' groups:

  • Education-based. This is my group. Every month, we have a speaker who talks about some element of the art or craft of writing. This year alone, we've had speakers cover blogging, finding markets for your work, playwriting, writing creative nonfiction, and developing a plot. We also allot some time for one of our members to read some of their work, and the rest of us provide feedback.
  • Critique Group. This is the group for you if you're strictly looking for feedback on works-in-progress or a push to get motivated when you need it. I personally haven't checked out any of the critique groups associated with our larger writer's group, simply because I haven't had time--most of my work is on deadline and I don't have time for lengthy editing sessions.
  • "Open writers". The third type of group seems to be a combination of the other two. I know of one local group like this. I can't say much about their meeting structure, as I haven't been able to make a meeting. From what I can gather, writers gather and are given a writing prompt, and they either work on the piece right there at the meeting, or work on it on their own time and bring it with them to the next meeting. This seems to be a good fit for those who are just starting out or aren't that confident in their writing style and need some motivation.

As I said in my last post, I don't think I'd be nearly as successful with my writing efforts had I not gotten involved with the group and met other writers. I live in a very small community, and the literary/artistic types tend to be well-hidden, so our group has been a great way for more of our local writers to network, share resources, and learn from each other. It's the best feeling in the world to come home from a meeting with a particularly inspiring speaker, sit down at the PC, and jump right in to whatever I might be working on. It's been a great motivator, and I definitely think the meetings and my commitment to the group has helped me in many ways.

What other types of writing groups are out there? How have they helped you?


  1. Thats a good suggestion for writers. Writers groups helps lot as we know from the fact that West Bengal, an Indian state has produced a large number of writers in India, including Noble winning, Rabindranath Tagore. You can find writers in groups at parks, at cafes and at other hangouts, its more informal. More formals groups have formed clubs and associations with their own journals. If its not possible to form such a group, there are a lot of blogs and forms where we form online communities.

  2. thank you..its really a great help...coz we got a project..our teacher asked us to research for articles that tackles about a group structure...whew!

  3. When I first read this post's title I thought it said "How writing groupies can help you stay on track" and was immediately intrigued! But seriously, I belong to the Georgia Writer's Association and as a state-funded nonprofit it definitely falls into the "educational" type group. As for now, I think it meets my writing needs, but I would like something more informal, or, ideally, a mixture of education and critique. My biggest problem is finding time to participate, which is a shame, because I generally leave writers' groups feeling energized and inspired.