If you've recently joined a new writing group or if you've started one of your own, you may be looking for some activities for your group meetings. Some groups may have stated rules and goals, depending on the type of group to which you belong. However, there are many fun and productive exercises you can incorporate into your meetings.
Sharing Progress and Feedback
People naturally tend towards a period of catching up at the beginning of meetings, so this could be a time for everyone to share what they’ve been writing since the last meeting. The facilitator could guide the discussion to include such topics as:
- How much writing was completed since the last meeting?
- What difficulties were encountered? How were they overcome?
- What pre-writing activities did members engage in?
- What feedback or discussions from previous meetings were helpful?
- What are the goals are for the next meeting?
Many groups like to share their writing virtually and communicate between meetings, and members can use Slack or Google Docs to accomplish this. With Google Docs, group members can write comments and suggest changes or edits to individual documents.
It's also useful to receive writing feedback face-to-face dduring meetings. However, since this can be awkward for some, it’s nice to have a few sessions dedicated to sharing writing without the pressure of feedback right after.
Writing during the meetings is a productive option as well. Some weeks may be so busy that it’s the only opportunity members have to work on their writing project, or it can be a time to write about writing in ways that will enhance your skills. Some ideas include:
- Make to-do lists
- List ideas for where your current writing project is going
- Share problems you’ve encountered in order to gain the perspective of your fellow writers
- Explain the types of feedback that are most effective for you
After this individual writing time, you can share what you wrote and everyone can provide their responses. Brainstorm solutions for those problem areas that you feel stuck in.
Another fun exercise to get members into the creative flow is to challenge the group with creative writing prompts. Have everyone follow the same prompt and discover the different directions people go in, even when starting with the same suggestion. Some examples of the type of writing prompts to offer:
- It was just for one night…
- He hadn't meant to scare the child.
- In the back of her mother's closet, she found a box.
You might not want to have too many activities at every meeting, but some are enjoyable to add in from time to time.
- Have a guest lecturer. This could be a local author who has a new bestseller, or current members who can share their area of expertise or something they are passionate about.
- Take a trip together to literary festivals or writing conferences.
- Dress up as characters from favorite books and read or quote passages as that character.
- Make it a writing competition. Set a time and see who can write the most or the best in a given time limit.
- Participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) together.
- Celebrate when one of you finishes a book, gets published, or reaches a sales goal!
At the end of the session, it’s a good idea to at least briefly confirm when the next meeting is, discuss a basic agenda, and announce any changes or upcoming events. If you have a group calendar, everyone can make sure they’re on the same page at this point.
As you can see, there’s so much to do during writing group meetings. In addition to sharing in fun activities and exercises, you'll all grow as writers and develop a strong network of support that will be invaluable in meeting individual and group goals.