Writing groups are invaluable so long as you find the right group for you. When looking for a new writing group in your area, it's important that you consider the following:
Expectations: What is the goal of your group?
Some will offer members’ critique in exchange for you reviewing theirs.
Others allow open-mic readings for writers to test out material on an audience.
Others still are a social affair, encouraging networking among authors, and allowing them to chat about experiences and learn from each others' trials and successes.
And some are quiet write-ins, where a group of writers will get together just to write in the company of fellow authors – a tactic that gets some irregular writers to work more consistently on their projects.
It's important to find a group that offers the sort of interaction you want, and to meet the expectations that membership requires. The best way to thrive in a group is to give back as much as you get.
Genre: Simply being a writer is not necessarily enough of a commonality.
The advice and perspectives offered by your peers is most helpful if they are passionate about (or at least familiar with) your genre.
With so many genres and cross-genres, it’s important to be sure that you find the right group in order for you and your work to be best received.
Even within your own genre, chemistry with your group members is important too. If a group doesn't work out, leave it graciously and find another that better suits your style.
Location: You will be more likely to attend a group, and look forward to going, if it is somewhere accessible.
Will the venue allow you to work on your laptop? Does it have wi-fi for when research is required? Is it a quiet space so you can concentrate? Is it comfortable for you to take notes during a workshop? Can you bring your kids? Is it accessible by bus, car, foot? Will you need to bring food or drink with you, or can you purchase them at the venue? Does the group meet solely online?
Practically speaking, these questions are important ones and can affect your motivation and enthusiasm to attend as much as good chemistry amongst your group members.
Time Commitments: Each group has set times that they meet.
Some meet once a week, others once a month, others for a specific month each year. Online groups may be accessible around the clock, but your favorite members may only be active at certain times of the day.
Determine how much time you have to devote to your group, and make the effort to reliably attend.
If there are any membership fees, are they affordable for your budget, and do they offer significant return for your investment? Some groups offer you access to databases of agents, publishers, editors and mentor authors, which give added value for time and money.
Make sure you have the time to read, review, edit, write, or prepare material as expected, in addition to attending meetings. Showing up with no assignment won’t go down well.
Once you've determined the type of group you're looking for, your writing group will be much easier to find.
You can conduct a basic Google search for the keywords “writing group” with your city or genre.
Websites like MeetUp, LinkedIn and Facebook offer free groups you can join locally.
Websites like NaNoWriMo, Scribophile or WritersCafe.org offer online workshops and interaction, which can be ideal if you live in a rural area or are otherwise unable to attend events in person.
Many cities, states or provinces offer “federations of writers” or “writers' societies” which require a membership, but give access to conventions, contests and unique professional perks.
If you are serious about improving your craft, finishing your book, or learning how to make it as a writer, join a writer's group. It is the single most advantageous investment of time and effort you can make for your writing during the writing process. Be prepared to shelve your ego, open up to constructive criticism, offer your own feedback, and get inspired!
Written by Astra Crompton, FriesenPress Author Account Manager
Edited by Kate Juniper, FriesenPress Editorial and Illustrations Coordinator
Image c/o Shutterstock