Thursday, August 26, 2010

How to start a writer's group

I’ve had several writers mention the need for a writer's group in their home town.

A few years ago, I ran into the same problem. Oh there was a group of very nice people already meeting but they spent most of their two hours reading their work out loud.

That didn’t work for me.

So how can you start a writing group?

Here’s what I did. I went to my local library and asked if I could schedule a room to use twice a month. I gave them a flyer telling a little bit about myself as a writer and what kind of group I wanted to start. They agreed to post it and put it in the newspaper for free. (That part helped a lot!)

Next I created an agenda to pass out:

1. Publishing Praises: A time to share your publication and contest praises with everyone to encourage others.

2. Individual Monthly Writing Goals: Be prepared to share your writing goals for the coming month and share what you have accomplished with your writing during the past month. Encourages accountability. ( I kept notes on goals.)

3. New Market Information: Please share any new writing markets you found this past month. Please share your market needs at this time.

4. Blog and Writing News: Have you found a good blog or writer’s site to share? Have you read a good writing article or book this month to share?

5. Critique Time: Bring something to share that meets the critique guidelines. Limit 1200 words.

6. Prayer Requests

I also made up guidelines for critiquing that would make it comfortable for everyone to share—with a time limit.

Then I waited alone in the room for someone to come. Thankfully they did. It was the first time in my life I’d ever done anything like this.

For over a year and a half we met and grew closer and closer. Just today, I received an email from one of the writers that he got accepted in Chicken Soup. It made my day.

Do you need a writers’ group? What’s stopping you from starting one?

37 comments:

Diane said...

Great agenda. Great idea using the library too. :O)

paulgreci said...

I've been in a couple of writers groups. Currently I have a few critique partners that I trade work with. For me, this is working fine right now.

Your group sounds great!!

kathy taylor said...

Stopping me from starting one? Lack of interest in Hazzzaaaard County. After months of looking for one, I've learned one exists in the next county. So thankful for Donna, my new online critique partner.

Carolyn said...

What an excellent idea! And your agenda is great! I live near a small town that has a great university...and a wonderful public library - two opportunities in one! This is on my list for this fall or early winter! THANKS!

Kenda said...

Our writer's group (three of us) formed after meeting at the 2007 Write-to-Publish conference in Wheaton, IL. What a blessing! And to think we had to go so far to find that we live so close to one another :-) Our guidelines are similar to yours. But posting an invitation at the library is a fantastic idea--oftentimes it takes just that one person to step up and get things going. Nice job!

Journaling Woman said...

Great information and agenda. Thanks for sharing.

Teresa

Heather Sunseri said...

What great suggestions, Terri! I've actually thought about doing something like this. This post has encouraged me to pray on it. Thanks!

Lin Floyd said...

I have a writers group-thanks for sharing some suggestions for improving it. I like having a monthly writing goal. Great post...

Clarissa Draper said...

I have a writing group and they're lovely. If you're not in one... don't wait!

CD

Julie Jarnagin said...

I have a great local ACFW group.

Julie Jarnagin said...

I have a great local ACFW group.

Jan Cline said...

I started a writers group in my home for some writers in my church, but the group is very small. I would like to increase the size. The library idea is good. I have been afraid to advertise for fear of attracting some that might not fit the group. That is why I recently left a group I was attending. Too many people who werent serious about writing but just there to socialize.

Andrea said...

Great suggestions!
Hugs,
andrea

Katie Ganshert said...

Wow, sounds like a really cool thing. I've never really thought about starting a writing group before. I don't have the time at this poit in my life, but wow, I hope I do in the future!

Nancy said...

I had two different writing groups in my home. The first one was quite successful for a short time. The other one was good only at the start as people wouldn't commit to coming. That was very discouraging.

Linda Glaz said...

Terri, you laid this out nicely. No one can say they don't have a template. Well done!

Donna M. Kohlstrom said...

Wish you still were leading our writing group. You did a great job and are missed by me and the other members.

Melissa Marsh said...

I started a writing group once and unfortunately, it just didn't last. But I think that's because we were all too different.

If a writer's group is focused on writing, it can be a wonderful thing. But I had to quit one writing group because it was so focused on bylaws and politics that it took the focus away from writing.

Deb Shucka said...

Wow, Terri. This is really great. I would never have thought to start at the library, or to be so clear up front about the structure of the critique group. Has it helped you significantly with your writing?

Shirley said...

HOw wonderful! And it is a great agenda!

Rachna Chhabria said...

What a wonderful idea Terri. Just love the initiative you took. I would love to do the same back at home. I like the idea of writing goals.

Amie B said...

i don't have an offical writing group - so this post was very helpful.

i've found though, my biggest supporters are online. so i go to them for crits. sometimes it's better when you don't have to face each other. LOL

Erica Vetsch said...

Wow, you're a brave woman! I'm so glad it worked well for you, and I bet that agenda/your leadership skills went a long way toward making your group a success!

Congrats to the member who got accepted for Chicken Soup! How fun! Your next meeting is going to have something to celebrate!

Lynda Young said...

That's great advice. I love the agenda too. It keeps everyone focussed.

Angie Ledbetter said...

Started one six or seven years ago. One of the best things I ever did. Besides the writing/crit help and exchange, the friendships have been sterling!

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Terri -

Congrats on progress!

I belong to a writers group, but we're on hiatus for the summer. Attendance is spotty at best. We're not sure if we'll continue.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Jackee said...

Thank you so much for an even more detailed answer to my question!! I'm so taking this advice and running with it. :o)

Thanks again, Terri! Have a wonderful weekend!

KarenG said...

Great blog here Terri! So glad you followed mine so I could find you. Thanks, and I'll be back :)

KarenG

BeckyJoie said...

I miss our little writer's group. it's too bad we couldn't keep it going. It seemed we were so spread out across the county. I'm glad to hear of fellow members who are doing well with their writing. I'm glad you are still at it too.

Karen Lange said...

Great guidelines! I have tossed around the idea of starting, and for me, it comes down to time. So maybe someday. In the meantime, my blogging friends have provided oodles of support online.
Have a great weekend,
Karen

Sally said...

Did someone show up at your first meeting? How many meetings before you had a group,(+3)? I went to one meeting of a writers group in Hershey, PA back in the early 90's and was disappointed with what I found. I do know the advantages of a group though tend towards a more personal approach and wonder if one other crit. partner would work better for me.

Jolene said...

Part of me thinks it would be fun and part of me knows I simply don't have time.
I already don't have the time to write that I want. Everyone who has a good group swears by them. I have a few friends who give me great input and I don't have to do a whole lot.
I'd probably do better with a partner.

Julie Musil said...

I love how organized you are! That's awesome.

I piggy backed on a writer's group that my writer friend had already been a part of. I like that it makes me accountable, and their ambition pumps me up. Plus, it's just nice to have a friendly face when we go to writer's day events.

Excellent tips, Terri.

Patti Lacy said...

WOW!
Did you NAIL this post or what???!!

Would you come to Normal and organize our motley crew???!!!

LOL.
Patti

Hold my hand: a social worker's blog said...

oh my Lord! Terri, you are an extraordinaire lady. What a leadership! You are following your passion, but also, helping others with similar goals.

Very good!

Doris

Jody Hedlund said...

Great ideas for starting a group, Terri! Love it!

Linda Hoye said...

Hi Terri - it's been much too long since I visited! I recently started a writing group too. I used Meetup.com to create a group and I didn't think anyone would be interested. In the first day I had nine people sign up and eleven women attended the first meeting (which I held in the library conference room too!).