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How to Find a Good Writing Group

Yesterday I covered the benefits of joining a writing group. It’s not like you’re getting spammed with junk mail inviting you to try out each of the different writing groups in your area, though. We don’t tend to go door-to-door evangelizing — we’re much more likely to huddle together in a quiet corner of the nearest Starbucks.

So how do you go about getting a writing group? And how do you make sure you end up in a good one?

Make Your Own

The easiest way to guarantee the quality and direction of your writing group is to build it yourself. Sometimes that means making new friends (and finding those friends could be a nontrivial task).

In our case, it was a matter of rumor and reputation — four of us who went to the same church, all interested in creative writing, and only tenuously connected to each other apart from that. Someone decided we should get together, though, and we did. And, as I said before, it was magical.

(It’s worth mentioning here that every one of us is an introvert, at least half of us are seriously shy, and I was wrestling at the time with something perilously close to crippling social anxiety. Any one of those can be a pretty standard personality trait for your average writer. Don’t let it stop you.)

Julie joined my Facebook group to get ready for last year’s NaNoWriMo, and got jealous enough of the meetings we were holding here in Oklahoma City that she recruited a couple of writing friends into her own group in Topeka.

Chances are good you, too, know someone who likes to write. You don’t have to be close friends. You don’t have to be at the same place in your craft (in fact, it helps a lot if you’re not). All you need to have is a shared interest in becoming better writers. The rest will take care of itself.

Browse by Genre

You don’t have to make your own, though. There are local writing groups in your area — I’m confident of it. And there are local writing groups that would be out knocking on your door to recruit you, if they could afford the marketing budget.

The most common public writing groups are the ones that focus on a particular genre. I know we’ve got a Children’s Book Writer’s Group here in Oklahoma City, and I’ve attended a meeting of the Oklahoma Romance Writer’s group. That was an experience.

I’m sure we’ve got Western Writers, and probably some general groups, too. These public writing groups might not offer the same sort of close, connected relationships I’ve been talking about, but they could be just the right the place to find the handful of friends you’re going to make those relationships with.

Want some help finding groups like these? There are a few general indexes, like this one at squidoo, but it’s hard to know how up-t0-date sites like that are.

It can be as easy as searching Google for “writing group” and your city name, though. If you’re writing in a genre, throw that in, too, and see what you get.

Ask an Expert

If you’d like a more personal experience than you can find in public groups on Google, turn to the experts. If you know any writers you admire in your area — published or not — ask them if they can recommend a group. If not, ask them if they’re interested in joining yours, or if they know of any other writers looking for one.

Another expert source of information could be a local creative writing teacher — high school or college, depending how old you want your group members to be. Set up an appointment in the English department at the nearest university, or just drop by the local community college.

In my experience, Creative Writing professors tend to be pretty approachable, especially if you’re going to express an interest in writing. They’ll likely have a finger on the pulse of your local writing community, and they can also put you in contact with students (or former students) who’d likely be interested in joining a group like yours.

Creative Writing Exercise

The lovely Kelley, writing at a coffee shopYou’d better go ahead and make that appointment now! I want you in a writing group by this time next month. I’ll check up on you, too.

Mark it on your calendar, review the options I’ve given above, and do the work you’ve got to do to get from here to there. If you don’t have any ideas at all…ask in the comments. Who knows? Maybe another of my readers happens to live down the street.

At the very least, just like I said yesterday, you can join our writing group on Facebook. It gets pretty quiet as we get more than a couple months away from NaNoWriMo, but maybe if we get our numbers up it’ll start jumping. If you’re interested, let me know.

One Response to “How to Find a Good Writing Group”

  1. Gurl says:

    This could be fun, considering the literacy rate of this area (I am maybe too elitist for the area, but ppl here make me crazy..just FYI). Found ONE group using the google search you recommended…going to try a few more, since that group only meets at times I am usually in class… *toddles off to find some more prospects as she really needs the real life social interaction and help these groups can provide* 😉