How To Get The Most Out Of Your Writing Group

By on March 6, 2018
How To Get The Most Out Of Your Writing Group - Writer's

Joining a writing group can be hugely beneficial for writers looking to gain inspiration and confidence. They can provide invaluable support, keep you motivated even when you are finding things hard, and can help you shape and hone your writing to make it the very best it can be.

However, to experience all the benefits of being in a writing group, you need to ensure you are making the most of it. Understanding the rules and practices of your writing group as well as focusing on what you want from it will help you to make it more worthwhile.

Not all writing groups exist for the same purpose, and so it’s a good idea to understand how to run a writing group (if you are setting one up) or what you want from a writing group (if you are thinking of joining one) so you are clear from the outset.

Here are some things to think about:

Having a clear purpose

All writing groups should have a clear purpose, and everyone in the group should know what it is. Without a goal, it is all too easy for writing groups to fall apart, and become disjointed and challenging to manage. Is it about getting feedback and sharing work? Is it about just giving one another support and being social? Is it about working collaboratively or sharing ideas? Do you use the time together to write? How much work is expected from members outside the meeting times? All of these factors should be considered and agreed from the outset.

The size of the group

The size of a writing group does make a difference. Smaller groups can spend more time really discussing one another’s work, where larger groups might be better at providing motivation or a sense of community, they also might require more work! Deciding what size of group will work best for you is something you should think about before joining.

Writing goals

Does everyone in your group have similar goals and aspirations? If not it can make the group feel more disjointed and difficult to manage. If everyone is working on fiction novels, for example, this will be easier to work with than if some people are writing poetry, some are bloggers, and some are researching and writing non-fiction books.

Writing experience

It can also be helpful to ascertain the level of writing experience of those in your writing group. If some have experienced a certain degree of success while others are complete beginners, this can also cause some friction and make your writing group harder to manage. Getting together with people of a similar writing level will make it easier, more productive and less intimidating too!

Casual or professional?

Do you want your writing group to be a laid-back and social affair where you spend as much time chatting and socialising as you do work, or do you want it to be as productive as possible? You might get frustrated if you were hoping for the latter but instead get the former and vice versa so establishing what you are looking for and the work ethic of the group is also essential.

Making sure time is distributed evenly

If you are critiquing one another’s work it is so important to do so fairly. Otherwise some members will end up feeling put out. Make sure that you pay attention to this and that everyone has a set time for their work to be discussed.

Is there a leader?

In most cases, there will be someone who organises the group and facilitates discussion. This just makes good sense if you want your writing group to be organised and to make the most of it. You could take it in turns to lead if you’d rather not put all the responsibility on one person.

Rules of critiquing

Make sure everyone in your writing group understands and embraces the rules for critiquing each other's work. Most groups tend to prefer members to be helpful in their feedback, and positive - though it is essential to be able to be honest, so working out the best and most appropriate way to give feedback and making sure all members agree to it is crucial to the smooth and successful running of the group.

By considering all the factors above and making sure that all members of the writing group are clear on its rules and are on the same page, you can enjoy the significant benefits that joining or creating a writing group has.

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

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