Starting a Local Writers Group


My husband is no poet, so when I offer my carefully pruned poetry for him to review, I get the usual and unsatisfying reply: "That' nice sweetie." Furthermore, he could care less about whom the Poet Laureate is and why I love his smoke pit conversation type poems. I could look elsewhere in my house for literary discourse, but I'd be met by conversations that might go a little like this, "'A' is for apple. Say 'aaaaaah'"

Upon realizing that I couldn't be truly literarily satisfied by the people in my house, I decided to hunt for a literary group. I did find a small reading group that met weekly, but consequently, there was a 3-5 year old age restriction. Shortly after being disappointed in my hunt for like minded folks, I decided to pick up my writing magazines and float away into my own little daydreams of literary exchange. Then, I found an article in Writer Magazine that gave tips and hints for people who conducted writing groups. It sounded like a great deal of fun to be doing exercises, critiquing projects and reading and discussing literature with a group of other literary enthusiasts. I really wished that there was something like that in my local area, so I started one.

If you are interested in starting a writer's group, here are a few ways you can get the word out about your new venture.

1. Ask local book stores, coffee shops, and libraries if you can post flyers detailing the nature, meeting times, and contact information for your new writing group.

2. Don't neglect the colleges in your local area. See if you can post flyers on their boards.

3. Large Supermarkets usually have bulletin boards near the entry way. They usually get read quite often, so post away.

4. Place classified ads in your local circulation. You might even try sending out a press release for your new group, whether or not you are a published writer.

5. If your local area has a roller channel, pay the fee to post your slide.

6. Get the smaller local businesses in on the action. They might be willing to keep flyers or cards on hand that advertise your writing group, especially since there is a chance that it will bring them more business.

Though you might be excited to launch your new advertising campaign for your new group, keep a few things in mind.

-Make sure you have a good location secured for the eventual meetings.

-Plan ahead for large groups as well as small groups. If more people come to the group, you will have a chance to have similar style writers work together. Small groups, however; offer the possibility of in depth critique and serious discussion. It is easier to keep the focus when there are only three to five members.

How to Conduct Your Writing Group

This is entirely up to you and the members. You will find that there will be novelists, fiction writers, horror writers, non-fiction writers, journalists, business writers, poets...Etc. You can tailor your writing group to the diversity of your group, or, if your group consists of a predominate genre; you can tailor the group to exercises that pertain to that genre.

Some writing groups meet monthly, while others will meet as often as every week. Depending on the lifestyles of the members, and the type of writing involved, you can tailor the meeting times to each of the members. You don't have to plan out the entire year before starting your group. In fact, you can write "Our first meeting will be on [date]. Meeting dates TBD. If you cannot make the first meeting, contact {info} for more information." That way, you can work out the details with the members rather then planning something that will only work for a small percentage of the people who are interested.

Some Writing Group Ideas

1. During the first meeting, you can ask each of the members to write a short blurb about their writing goals and what they would like to get out of the writing group. Ask them what their preferred genres are and what they would like to improve.

2. Always talk about the preferred criticism style before unraveling another writer's work line by line. Some people are looking for serious in depth critique, while others are looking simply to discuss the content of their work.

3. Share published literature. Collectively read a novel or several short stories and discuss what works in those stories. Good writers tend to be good readers.

4. You can start each session with a free writing exercise to get the writing molecules in motion.

5. You can give take home assignments. These can be vague writing prompts that will work with any type of genre. Writer's Digest usually has quite a few good writing prompts that can be used for fiction writers as well as poets.

6. Introduce guest speakers. If you have a favorite writing instructor from college, don't be too shy to ask him or her to give your writing group a little visit.

7. Discuss publication venues. It always helps to discuss some of the literary journals that accept submissions.

8. Start a small literary journal! You can do this by collecting and working on the pieces that you and your members do in the writing group. These little journals don't have to be fancy, nor do they have to be widely distributed. Distributing a few journals to the library and to other non-profit organizations can be a good way to help your group gain some experience in the writing industry.

Overall, a writing group has a plethora of possibilities. A great attribute of a well tuned writing group is the fact that you might life long mentors, protégés, and friends.

Devrie Paradowski is an aviation weather forecaster and freelance writer who has written several weather related articles for her local circulation, "The White Falcon." She has also written dozens of content articles for the web. Her creative pieces have been featured by Adagio Verse Quarterly, Poetry Renewal Magazine, Meeting of the Minds Journal, and SkyLine magazine. She is the author of a chapbook of poetry called, "Something In the Dirt," which can be found at http://www.lulu.com/devrie. She is also the founder of the Fire and Ice Writer's Group.


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