Finding a helpful writing group can sometimes feel as difficult as navigating the messy middle of your writing project. But the rewards for finding a group are numerous.
A writing group can help point out inconsistencies in your work, provide encouragement, ask questions and hold you accountable to your writing goals. When we belong to a supportive community, we are able to accomplish more.
So where do you find these people? Start here:
1. Local writing centers and communities
Usually a quick Internet search with your city and “writing groups” will yield some results. Attend the group, meeting, or class and see if the group feels like a good fit.
Sharing your information with other writing conference attendees is a great way to expand your writing community. I was invited to join my current writing group after meeting a member at a writing retreat.
3. Bulletin boards
There is still a lot to be said for this old school method of finding people! Post a sign at your favorite coffee shop, outside the writing department at your local college, or even on Craigslist. Create a process for vetting individuals or groups to determine if they are a good fit for your writing style – or not.
4. Writing associations
Professional associations such as Romance Writers of America and Mystery Writers of America have chapters throughout the country. Check their sites for directories to find other members in your local area.
5. People you already know
Many people want to write a book. Eowyn Ivey, shortlisted for the 2013 Pulitzer Prize with her first novel, The Snow Child, exchanged work on a weekly basis with her mother, Julie Hungiville Lemay, an accomplished poet.
Most of us don’t come from writer families, but this doesn’t matter; the key is establishing a routine for a regular exchange of work. It can often be easier with someone with whom you have weak ties. Consider coworkers, neighbors, or acquaintances.
This online service connects local people with similar interests ranging from Spanish literature to Scrabble. If there isn’t a writing group in your city, start your own – or hold virtual meetings and exchange work via email.
7. Online critique groups
Multiple online services are available and are often set up as an exchange: you must critique others’ work to have your own critiqued. Though they are often free, you may need to pay for for full access or an unlimited number of critiques. Some groups to check out: Critique Circle, Review Fuse, Scribophile and Ladies Who Critique.
One thing to keep in mind is that the readers in each group may or may not be your target audience. While I was pleased with my experience on Scribophile, there was a higher proportion of men than women and a higher ratio of fantasy writers compared to other genres.
8. Social media
Social media is a great way to connect with like-minded individuals and find potential writing group members. Try these: LinkedIn Groups for Writers, Facebook Groups for Writers, Goodreads Writing Groups and Twitter Lists for Writers.
Or you can just put out a call on your own social networks that you’re starting a writing group. You might be surprised who responds!
Finding a writing group takes time but it is well worth it to have the support, feedback and encouragement a group provides. Once you find your people, consider these guidelines to make sure the group is effective for all of you.
Do you belong to a writing group? If you’re looking for a writing partner, leave a comment to connect with other readers!