Ideas for Writers Groups Success

My last post introduced the importance of writers groups.

This post offers some ideas on how to operate a successful writers group.

You may look for an existing group–you can look on the bulletin boards of your library, book stores, or educational centers. Always look online as well.

If you can’t find a writers group that seems to fit your needs, you can start one. Solicit interest from writers who are like-minded in what they read and write.  This helps assure the quality of the feedback because those offering critique understand your reader and your market better than those who don’t read what you write.

Where do you find these writers? Take classes. Call literary centers. Ask friends and family and neighbors and coworkers. Post notices on bulletin boards. Blog.

What about when and where to meet?

You get to decide when to meet–weekly, bi-weekly, monthly. You get to decide where to meet–coffeshops, bookstores, meeting rooms, homes, anywhere fairly quiet where you can talk and not be disturbed or disturb others.

What about rules for reading?

You can have the person who wrote read his/her own work to the group. You can bring a copy of the writing for everyone, then either have it read aloud by the writer or have it read silently before coming back together for oral feedback. You can have someone other than the writer read the writing. This can be very effective since the writer knows what was intended, but someone else reading does not.

You can have the feedback provided in writing (create a feedback form and have group members fill it out and hand it to the writer). Another option is if everyone gets a copy of the writing, they can write their feedback directly on it and give that back to the writer. You can have oral feedback so everyone in the group can benefit. You can use a combination of any of these.

The writer should not debate the feedback, but rather should simply say thanks. That doesn’t mean the writer must accept or embrace all feedback, but it does mean the meeting doesn’t get confrontational or personal.

Feedback guidelines should be somewhat codified–no personal attacks; feedback should pertain to the writing, not the writer; feedback should be presented in a positive and constructive fashion; feedback should be useful (the purpose is to help the writer improve the writing).

You may want to limit how much is read per writer (4 to 6 pages is about as long as you can hold someone’s attention). You can impose time limits depending upon how many readers you have (15 minutes reading time and 5 minutes critique time eats up an hour pretty quickly).

If your group is large, you can have sign-up sheets to pass around and have writers  sign up to read at the next group meeting.

Be mindful there’s a risk of turning the group into a social rather than a writers group. If you ‘re spending a lot of time catching up on everyone’s family, health, job search, etc., you’re not using the time set aside to help with improving each other’s writing. Better to use the time before or after the set aside time for socializing. You can also build in a 10-minute break at the half-way point of a two-hour writers group meeting for such a purpose.

I’m sure there are many ways to add to your writers group success. I’ve experienced all of these ideas and found value in each one.  You just need to find which ones work best for your group.

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1 Response to “Ideas for Writers Groups Success”


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