How Important are Writers Groups?

When I do my workshops on writing for fun and profit, one of the questions I often get asks about the importance of writers groups.

I think writers groups are very important, but not just any writers group will do. You’ll want to join (or start) a writers group of writers who read what you write. For example, if you write romances, but the people in your writers group don’t read them, their feedback won’t be very helpful. They won’t know, for example, that romance readers carry certain expectations for the storyline and characters.

My first writers group formed out of a writing class when I was a university student. We met monthly in agreed-to locations (sometimes a home, sometimes a library meeting room) and read and critiqued each other’s work.

Graduation saw us all heading in different directions, so I joined the Minneapolis Writers Workshop-established in 1937.

The Minneapolis Writer’s Workshop meets every Wednesday night except Christmas, I believe. I went every week for years.

Visit their website for an idea about how a successful writers group works.

I learned so much by attending–the workshop is too large to have everyone attending read, but to hear the feedback was extremely helpful for my own writing.

When I started teaching college in the evening, I had to find another writers group. Some of us interested in nonfiction writing started a Friday afternoon writers group and we met faithfully every Friday (except after Thanksgiving and  holidays) for ten years.

We disbanded when our members started getting jobs and working during the day.

My current writers group meets every third Thursday evening. We originally were students in a writing center. The center closed when its founder died of brain cancer, but some students kept her vision going and still meet to read and critique each other’s work.

How important are writers groups? Extremely important if you want to improve your writing. My next post will offer some ideas on how to organize and run a successful writing group.

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8 Responses to “How Important are Writers Groups?”


  1. 1 kcd75 November 23, 2009 at 7:03 pm

    Thanks for the post…do you know any online writers groups?

    K.C.D
    http://thewritingsofkcd.wordpress.com/

    • 2 expertbookpublishing November 25, 2009 at 10:48 am

      I’ve never tried an online writers groups, but can see them as an alternative to a face-to-face, provided group members are committed to offering fair feedback and staying involved.

      The risk with online writers groups is just that–people don’t stay committed because other things come up. When we met every Friday at 1:00 pm, we made a commitment to each other to be there and to bring something we’d written to share.

      Why not start your own online writers group using something like Yahoo Groups?

  2. 3 donnadmunro July 21, 2010 at 10:35 pm

    I agree that writer’s groups are important. Writers need feedback or they will only have their work judged by family and friends (which isn’t wise). Other writers can crique realistically and help you correct bad writing – family and friends can’t (unless they are writers, of course).

  3. 4 donnadmunro July 21, 2010 at 10:36 pm

    Oops there’s a spelling mistake! There’s another thing writer’s groups will help you edit your work.

    • 5 expertbookpublishing July 22, 2010 at 9:20 am

      How funny you found your own spelling error. I had a spelling error in an early blog entry and one of our authors emailed me to let me know. It’s easy to make an error and not find it because you know what you meant, so that’s often what you see! You are correct–editing help is just one more reason to join a writers group.

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