How to Find the Perfect Writers Groups

Writers Groups

Thinking of joining a writers group? A writers group is an informal gathering of writers who meet once a month or more to share their poems, short stories, novels, or essays. They share advice and criticism, and generally support one another through the process of writing and submitting their work to literary agents and editors. These groups are also a great source of writing-related news and industry leads (especially online groups).

Writing is a solitary endeavor, so it’s only natural that some writers are drawn to groups of like-minded souls. No one but a fellow writer can properly appreciate the pain of a terse rejection or the angst of writer’s block. And when it comes to encouragement and constructive criticism, leave it to your fellow writers to step up.

That’s the concept behind writers groups. Reality is often different, and even if you find a group that fits your criteria, you may find that you don’t work well in a group dynamic. If you do work well with others, you may have to try out several groups before finding that perfect fit.

What to look for in a writers group:

Dynamics. Does each member contribute more or less equally? Or does everyone defer to the strongest personality in the group? Does everyone contribute work to be read, as well as read other writers’ work? Or do the same two people do all the critiquing while the rest do all the writing? Look for a group dynamic where equality reigns.

Positive atmosphere. There’s far too much rejection in the writing world already, and an overly negative atmosphere does not do anyone good. Look for a group that offers constructive criticism as well as encouragement and praise. If you feel like a minnow in a pool of bloodthirsty sharks, it’s time to seek out another group.

No fawning! Just as biting comments and harsh criticism hurt, so do the insipid remarks of the well-meaning. While “It was so great!” feeds our ego, it does nothing to improve our craft. Intelligent insight is welcome—vague, obsequious praise is not.

A common goal. If your goal is to build publication credits, find a group with the same collective goal. Or it might be your intent to get your feet wet and start learning how to be a better writer. Find a group that will help you with your particular goal.

Logistics. Obviously, you’re more likely to attend meetings if they aren’t held 40 miles away at 9:00 p.m. And you prefer meeting in a bookstore or a quiet café rather than that punk rock bar in the red-light district.

Online Writers Groups

Online writers groups are also very popular and especially handy for those who live in less populated areas. It’s also convenient to operate this way, as you may pick and choose what you want to crit, when you want to crit. However, this can also translate into a lack of commitment, as folks pop in and out as they like.

In a physical setting, each writer gets their work read and critiqued. In an online group, stories and poems and portions of manuscripts are either posted online or emailed to select members. Critiques can be posted in either a public forum or on the writer’s personal area. You have the freedom to choose to critique work of a certain genre or form (only poetry or horror, for example) or by a few select writers whose work you like.

A word of caution. Sometimes it’s easier to be cruel when you’re not looking a fellow writer in the face, so take care with your criticism when in cyberspace. On the other hand, if you’ve encountered someone who is offensive to you in some way, it’s easier to avoid them than if you sat next to them in a physical setting.

In a real-world situation, you’re generally forced to deal with the members of your group. And while this is a wonderful opportunity to make new friends and gain valuable input from your peers, there are always those members who make you a bit uncomfortable. We’ve listed a few types to avoid if you can possibly help it.

Click here to read more.

SOURCE: Writer’s Relief

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