Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Writer's Groups

One of my New Year's resolutions is to try to find a local writer's group to attend.  Having never been to one before, I want to ask my readers:

Do you belong to a local writer's group?
How much of a time commitment is it?
How has it been helpful?
How has it not been helpful?
Any advice or suggestions for me?

What about online groups?


  1. I second your questions. I would like to find a writers group as well.

    How do you find one?

  2. i'm part of a local American Christian Fiction Writers group. we meet every other month. i find encouragement there just because it's nice to meet with other writers and not feel like i'm the only one with a story in my head all the time. the funny thing is, though, that almost all of them want to be published and i don't, so i feel like i'm the rock in the middle of the stream saying, "hey, it's ok to write just for the sake of writing."

    the local group tried to start critique groups, but it hasn't worked, so i'm part of an online group and we all write fantasy. i've had the chance to edit for others, but since mine isn't ready, i haven't submitted anything, but when i do, i know it will get good crits.

  3. Douglas, I just googled "South Jersey Writer's Groups" and found a couple in my area. One meets on a night that I have a conflict (Scout leaders' meeting - I know you're an Akela too) and the other one I signed up for, but then got an email that it's disbanding. The teacher who was leading it can't continue, but the library is leaving the room open for anyone who wants to come anyway. So I may go next week just to see what happens.

    However, I have promised myself I will NOT volunteer to organize a new group. Must. Stop. Making. Commitments. LOL!

  4. Michelle, do you belong to Lynette Labelle's group?

  5. Hi Christine :)

    I belonged to a local writer's group at one time. It was very informative and did teach me some good things. However, I'm very much a self-taught type learner (growing up homeschooled teaches you that. lol) So...I'm not too much of a judge when it comes to those.

    The one I was part of for a time didn't have too much time committed to it. We met once a month, and brought in our snippets and passages and etc. The author who was running it would discuss some tidbits he had learned, and then pass around our work to be read and commented on, as well as writing exercises, so it was helpful in that way.

    It was very helpful for snippets, troublesome paragraphs, short stories, etc. But it didn't do as well, when I used it, for longer novels. Because giving someone an entire chapter to read (which, for me at least, could vary between 2k -7k or more words at a time) to read and comment on was a little daunting...

    As to advice...I'd say make sure that most of your local group is in and around your same age (there is nothing worse than stepping into a group that is predominantly teenagers, when you're twice their age.)

    Also, find out what genres they write in. This is not super important, but it helps for smoother sailing. There are things in fantasy you can get away with, that won't work in sci-fi, and vice versa.

    As to online writer's groups: I espouse them as one of the best ways to see how your work stands up. There is the instant gratification (nothing like finding a review in your email or attached to a forum post. Loverly)

    Another nice feature is the ability to double-check some of the facts or assumptions you used.

    For example, in the online writer's group I participate in, we have someone from Canada who is an expert in website building and computer stuff, there's two of us who are in the military (awesome when you need to know if corporal rates above lieutenant) A martial arts expert. A former small-town editor.

    All of them are like living encyclopedias in their topics of choice. And they can be far more detailed than any normal, dry encyclopedia that you use.

    My long two cents, of course. :)


  6. no, i'm not part of Lynette's group. i found another one before i'd heard of hers.

  7. I belong to a local group nobody has heard of: Chico Writers Group (http://chicowritersgroup.blogspot.com/). I have to say, I've learned a lot from this group of amateur writers. Some are published, most are not. The variety of writers and genre's makes the group controversial on many writing topics.

    Now, this isn't the group for everyone. Like I say, they're quite a mix. And, that's really what I like about them. Because no matter what genre you - the proverbial member - write in, someone has read or written extensively in that genre. And has resources or insights.

    I really can't say enough about the "right" writers group. Not all are a good fit for the aspiring writer. But my own personal experience - because I found the right fit the first time out - is every writer should attempt to join a group.

    I haven't joined any on-line groups; I found a good face-to-face group. If you live in a remote area however, check out the on-line groups. I'm sure there must be good options there also.

    I was a desperately lonely writer before I made the effort to join a group. My writing has improved vastly for their varied feedback.

    My advise (the disclaimer IMO; in my opinion) is to join a group with a diversity of writers. How often do the lines of Crime and Romance blur, or fantasy and politics/religeon. How often do you see a sci-fi novel that doesn't include sociolody and technology. Whatever your preferred genre, these divergent perspectives can only make your novel better, truer to reality.

    Build your own world, but make it believeable. A writers group will help you remain true to your plot.

    Uhm, in my opinion. Thanks for listening.



I apologize for the word verification. I hate it, but the spammers made me do it.