In previous posts, we’ve talked about the benefits of a writing group and how to find one, but sometimes finding a group you want to join is difficult. Maybe you’ve visited some but they didn’t fit your needs, or maybe there just aren’t any in your area. If that’s the case, you should consider starting your own group. We've got some tips to help get you started.
What Do You Want Your Group to Be?
One of the great things about creating your own writing group is that you can choose exactly what you want it to be. Before you begin to search out fellow writers, decide what kind of group it will be and what the basic rules will be. Things may change as you get more participants, but setting the ground rules will keep it from turning into something you’re not comfortable with. Will it be free or will there be membership fees? Everyone loves free things, and that will attract other writers, but fees come in handy when there are accomplishments to celebrate, or if people want to have a holiday party, or just to make sure everyone is serious about contributing.
Decide if you want the group to be for all kinds of writers (fiction, nonfiction, poetry, screenwriting) or if it will focus on just one particular genre. You should stay flexible on where and when meetings happen since it will have to be something that works for at least a few people, but have the times and locations that work best for you in mind so you can present the options as soon as you get some interest.
If you have any goals or rules in mind, state them from the beginning so members know what sort of environment they’ll be in. These might include attendance, showing support, and how disagreements will be dealt with. But don’t get bogged down in rules; you can work out the kinks along the way.
Here are some questions to consider before going public:
- What is your primary objective? Inspiration, writing tips, accountability, peer reviews?
- Will you all share writings, take turns, give feedback, write during the meeting, collaborate?
- Will one person be in charge? If so, who?
- How will you communicate outside of meetings?
- How long and how often will meetings take place?
- How can concerns be expressed?
Finding Other Writers
To find other writers, try posting flyers at local libraries, community centers, bookstores, coffee shops, and any other book-related locations where people gather. Attending literature festivals and writing conferences can also provide connections. And of course, post on the internet. Join book groups or pages on Facebook, X (Twitter), Instagram, Reddit, and Goodreads and set up a Meetup account. Keep yourself open and available during this time.
Planning for Your First Meeting
For at least the first meeting, it’s a good idea to provide supplies like pens, pencils, paper, and notebooks. After that, you can ask people to bring what they need for writing going forward.
You’ve put a lot of work into this, but be open to reevaluation. If something isn't working, it’s not a bad reflection on you to change it. And even if you don’t get a lot of involvement at first, don’t quit. These things take time to grow, and you never know who is out there looking for a writing group just like yours.
Though it may seem daunting, starting a writing group can be an excellent way to build community, support other writers, and grow your own writing. Setting the foundation for the group yourself can bypass many of the difficulties that come with joining an already established group.