Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Finding the Right Writing Group

A few weeks ago I found a new writing group. I’ve been to a handful of meetings and can officially say I’m in love.

I’ve been on the lookout for a new writing group since my old one kinda sorta disbanded when the founder stopped scheduling meetings when her personal life got in the way. There’s still a chance things will resume. But after four months of radio silence, I’m not going to hold my breath.

My weekly prompt writing group is still going strong – and that’s where the two stories accepted for publication in Eclectic Flash originated from. But this group, although I love going, is focused on writing practice not critique – and critique is something I’m needing at this point in time.

I happened to be scrolling through my Twitter timeline a few weeks ago when I saw a tweet by Elizabeth S Craig: “A tool for finding in-person crit groups. Type in "critique group" and your location: http://bit.ly/lSed7B

So I clicked, and was redirected to Meetup.com.


Wait a minute. I had already done this when I first moved to town almost two years ago. There was only one writing group, and they were closed to any more fiction writers with maybe a spot for a serious writer of creative nonfiction or memoir. Pretentious much?

But since I was already on the page, I decided I might as well plug in my zip code to see if anything changed. After all, I was desperate for the regular meetings and thoughtful discussions that come from a dedicated critique group.

Turns out a new writing group had gotten started at the beginning of the year and anyone could join. Score. Meetups are held in alternating locations across town, and there’s at least two sessions each week (one in the mornings and one after work) with writers of all styles and genres.

Although I’ve been going to as many meetups as possible, the structure allow for people to pop in now and again with no commitment. We just need to bring five pages and copies to share. Everyone reads their work aloud and then the group discusses it, offering constructive feedback, the good and bad. It’s a great format for testing out story ideas or seeing if the oh-so-important beginning of your story or novel hooks readers of all stripes. And best of all, there’s been no egos in sight – just writers serious about strengthening their work.

After just a few sessions, I’ve already connected with dozens of writers in the area I’ve never met before through other literary events in town. And considering the on-again/off-again relationship with my last group, I’m glad for something with a bit more stability.

Writing groups are fickle things – just like the people behind them.

Don’t settle for a group that doesn’t fit your needs. You may not find a perfect group right away, but don’t stop looking. Stay on the lookout for new opportunities.

And don’t forget to recheck resources like Meetup.com every so often. You never know what will happen.

Happy writing!

4 comments:

Heather Hellmann said...

Meetup.com is such a great website! I first heard about it in another author's blog, and I decided to check it out. I found a writer's group in my area and I have been going to meetings since January. It's nice to meet others who share a similar passion.

Asherose said...

Also don't forget that you can start your own, if the right writer's group doesn't yet exist in your area. Flyers in libraries, bookshops and coffeeshops help. National Novel Writing Month is a great time and place to recruit - even if you don't attend write-ins, the forums on the site are locally arranged. Lots of ways to get writers interested!

Kathleen
http://www.kathleendale.com

Bluestocking said...

Thanks, Heather. So glad you've had a positive experience with Meetup too!

That's a good point, Kathleen. I've been hesitant to do so because I want to direct as much of my time towards writing. Administering a writing group would be time-consuming. But with the right folks involved, it might be worth it. Thanks for the comment!

Laura Marcella said...

This is the first I've heard of the site. I'll check it out. I'm glad you found another group!

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