You know the benefits of creating a writing group but…

Do you know how to start one that benefits everyone in your group?  The biggest pitfall to starting a writing group is not setting up guidelines for how your community will work.  The second problem is having expectations that are too hard for people to meet.

We all live chaotic lives, and we need writing groups that recognize how busy we really are.

So, when you start a writing group there are 3 essential things you need to do:

  1. Set clear writing expectations.
  2. Set clear reading expectations.
  3. Find the right balance of expectations for everyone in your group.

Do you want to see a video version of this post?  See my video: How to Start a Writing Group: 3 Keys to Success.

 

3 Essential Keys to Starting a Writing Group

If your writing group doesn’t have clear and reasonable expectations members will drift away from it.  Writers want to know they can achieve their creative visions.

Make sure that what you plan for a writing group meets those needs.  Talk to your group members and find out what their goals and how much time they have for the group.

Below are 3 keys to creating a successful writing group and the questions that will help you think through each one.

 

#1  Set Clear Writing Expectations

Talk to the other writers in your group and decide what kind of writing they want to do. Also, ask how much writing they can do. Here are questions that will guide you:

  1. How much writing should each member do before a meeting?  This can mean the length of writing (pages, word count etc.) or it could be part of a project (book chapters, part of research paper etc.)
  2. What is reasonable for how often you meet?   If you meet once a week, you’ll have less time to write than if you meet every 2 weeks or even longer.   You should adjust your expectations based on how often you meet.
  3. What is your group’s writing genre?  If your genre is poetry you many want to ask members to bring 1 or 2 poems, they are working on.  If your group writes fiction your members have different writing goals and they need to make steady progress with their stories.
  4. What is the group’s objective? Is it to complete a project by a deadline, or is it an ongoing writing group where people grow as writers?

 

#2 Set Clear Reading Expectations

Discuss how much reading the writers in your group want to do.  There are 2 types of writing groups:  1) Writing Groups where you need to read everyone’s work before a meeting, and 2) Writing Groups where you only read people’s work during a meeting.  These 4 questions will help you figure out the reading expectations everyone can handle.

  1. How much reading do members need to do before a meeting?
  2. How much reading do they do during a meeting?
  3. Do members need to take notes on what they read before a meeting? OR:
  4. Do they make comments and suggestions at the time of the meeting?

 

# 3 Find the Right Balance of Expectations For Everyone in the Group

Look at your group members writing and reading expectations and see how they can fit into people’s lives and busy schedules.

  1. How much writing and reading can the writers in your group handle with everything else they do?
  • This affects the size of your writing group and how often you can meet.
  • More writing and reading expectations require smaller group sizes so that everyone can have time to write to their best ability.
  • If your writing group doesn’t require large amounts of writing and the reading expectations are low, you can have a larger group. In this type of community, writers would have more people advising them on their work and offering different points of view.

 

When you start a writing group, look at each of these three elements and have an open discussion about your group’s goals and how you will meet them.  Decide what writing and reading expectations will help the members of your group meet their writing goals. Your writing group will be in a much better place when you find the right balance of writing, work and life for everyone.

What ideas do you have for starting a writing group? Please comment below with your suggestions and thoughts.

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