There are a lot of different types of writing groups out there, and not all of them are for everyone, or maybe you don’t want to join one at all.
If you are looking to join one, know that the types of groups are different and even different sessions will vary depending on the attendees.
Finding writing groups:
Many of your local museums, art centers, and group centers will have writing groups. You can go on their website, find their calendar, and check to see if they have any workshops are group meetings coming up.
Facebook also has a lot of local group pages and you can search for creative groups that have, among other things, writing events. You can also search for general writing groups or get specific and search for novel writing or poetry groups.
Meetup has been where I found my favorite writing groups. Meetup.com also has an app and you can join many different kinds of groups from brunches to hiking and, of course, writing. As with Facebook, searching for a broader or more narrowly focused group is up to you.
Types of groups:
Of course there’s different genres and categories of writing from historical sci-fi fiction to non-fiction biographical poetry, but that’s not what I mean.
There are different mindsets of groups that get together, and there are guided groups that have different leadership styles or intentions.
Non-guided groups tend to be more of a designated writing time where you’re held accountable- you RSVP and say that you’re going, and after some time you’ll be a recognizable face in the group that it just instills the importance of going and urges you to make that time for writing. If you have a project to work on that you just haven’t sat down or made the time for, these are a great group for you.
Within these non-guided groups there are some that offer to share works and some that critique what’s shared. Some will start with introductions of who you are and what you’re working on, others are just a reserved space in a quiet coffee shop or library where you know you’ll have a conducive writing environment.
Some groups will post ahead of time what they’re like, others you’ll have to try a time or two to see how they work and if their flow is right for you.
Guided groups come in all forms, too. Some have an intention for the day and are set for months or weeks out ot complete a project; maybe getting started on a novel with day one being character development, day two being plot and plot twists. Others have a new target or lesson each day, unrelated to past meetings, sometimes with a guest speaker/leader who has been published.
Some of these targets will happen in during the group, and sometimes a box of tools will be given, some works completed in group, with some homework to build on what was learned.
Some of these works will be read aloud and offered critiques, and generally it’s acceptable to decline reading aloud or to share and not want input, both of which are more than okay.
The big thing with guided groups or groups that allow sharing and/or critiquing is that they involve more interaction with other writers. Sometimes these other writers have good advice or become friends and advocates, other times there are snooty writers who have had success and think their way is the only right way, or just general Debbie-downers regardless of whether or not they’ve found success. The important thing to remember is that just because someone shows up a time or two, doesn’t mean they’ll stick with the group. Also, there are always more groups to try if you aren’t getting what you need.
NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, is a time when these groups spring up like really pretty weeds. It’s in November and while they all focus on novel writing, for some it’s just a really great opportunity to find other creative minds in the area and put a pen to paper (or fingers on a keyboard).
I go to both types of groups.
I’m working on a novel and there’s one group that meets the first Saturday of every month that I enjoy going to. We introduce ourselves, what we’re working on – from screenplays to poetry – and then we write for about an hour in a cute little coffee shop. When writing time is up, we regroup, talk about how we did, and some people leave and others stay and continue their rhythm if they found it.
Another group I’m actually returning to for the first time in a while is more of a guided group with a different intention or lesson each time and usually with some homework.
I had invited friends to go a few times, then my rugby schedule changed and was on the same nights as the group.
I didn’t take it as such a loss because my friends ended up liking the group and I was still writing, plus there was a man in the group who had been published once or twice and was just a negative know-it-all who would often try to steal the spotlight by speaking over the person leading the group or the person sharing.
Now that I dont have three jobs and have quit rugby, my Wednesdays are free. I also caught up with one of the friends who had continued to go to the group and she mentioned that the heckler had stopped coming and said I should come back, so tonight I will be reuniting with that group and I’m really excited to have some guided growth in my writing abilities.
If you want to post any local writing groups to anyone else who might read this, I encourage doing so in the comments. Also, if you have any links or advice for beginning writers or seasoned writers who have hit a wall, please share.
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