Writing Groups 101: How to Find Your Perfect Match

Writing can be lonely. And when you’re working alone, it can be hard to know if your words are right on track or if they’re way off the mark.

Why not make time to meet with like-minded writers and critique each other’s work?

If that sounds like a good plan, you may want to find a writing group.

Read on to find out about the different types of writing groups, how to find one, how to decide if it’s a good fit and, if you don’t find one that’s a good fit, how to start your own.

How to find a writing group

First, you’ll need to decide if you’d like to join an online writing group or if you’d rather meet writers face to face in your hometown.

Some writers prefer a combination approach, working with an in-person group and supplementing that with an online critique group. You may have to work through a few different approaches to find what works best for you.

If you’re looking for an in-person writing group, take a look around and see if you can find a local writing association, Meetup.com group or even an acquaintance already running a group. Ask at your local library or look for fliers. Once you find a group, see what’s involved and consider attending a meeting.

If online writing groups are more your thing, you’ll have a plethora of online options to choose from. Many of these are focused on specific genres, and some even allow features like audio and video feedback. Peruse the options to see what you think will work best.

Of course, Facebook also offers a number of writing groups if one of those might meet your needs.

How to evaluate writing groups

The best way to evaluate a writing group and see if it’s right for you is to attend a few meetings, whether online or in person.

It might take a few sessions to decide if it’s a good fit. And you may have to go through a few groups to find the right fit, but that’s okay.

Don’t feel pressured to stay in groups that don’t work for you. Maybe you write sci-fi and most of the writers in your group focus on historical fiction. Discussing the cobblestones in Boston 100 years ago at length may be fascinating on its own, but it’s not going to help you get your book written.

Or maybe you don’t mesh with the others in the group personality-wise. That’s fine, too.

If a group isn’t a good fit, don’t worry. That just means it’s time to shop around until you find an even better match.

Start your own writing group

If you can’t find just what you’re looking for, or you’d rather start fresh, consider starting your own writing group.

This can mean anything from an informal occasional critique session with a handful of friends to a structured group that meets every week with designated roles and an agenda.

When starting a group, you’ll need to consider where your members will come from. Do you already have a handful of writers who want to form a group? Or will you need to find writers? You can often find writers by asking around, posting fliers at the library, putting a message up on Facebook or reaching out to local literary groups or clubs.

It’s always important to work with writers who have similar goals and ideas. This doesn’t mean you have to write the same types of things. Not at all. It can be helpful to have diverse genres in your group.

But it isn’t helpful to have different ideas about what you want to get done. If half your members want to chat about their hobbies and the other half want to discuss writing in-depth, that’s not likely to be a good match.

If informally talking about each work is productive for your group, that’s great. But if you are looking for a bit more in terms of structure, consider writing up an agenda with time slots for each part of your meeting.

For example, the first 10 minutes could include updates from everyone before moving on to 15 minutes to talk about each manuscript. If you have a chatty group, consider building a coffee or snack break into the meeting or have an optional coffee break before or after.

But you also don’t want to be the dictator of the writing group. Work with group members to find a plan that works well for the whole group.

However you find or create your writing group, having a good, solid group of writers to offer encouragement, support, and critiques can be invaluable.

If there’s anyone who understands what writers go through, it’s other writers.

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