How to Set Up a Writer’s Group: CWC Session VII


Author Highlight: Samantha Hoffman, Mare Swallow, Inés Bellina

Finding a writer’s group in today’s world isn’t always easy. Below are some hints and tips to help you get started!

When Starting a Writer’s Group, always keep in mind:

  • Have 4-8 Total Members. 4-8 people is a good number of members. On this panel, four was noted as the “sweet spot.” Quantity is not quality!
  • Go Weekly, Biweekly, or Monthly. These are good meeting frequencies. Don’t overextend yourself; if you aren’t sure between two frequencies, choose the least frequent. It will be easier to stick to.
  • A Bad Match is a Waste of Time. If this happens to you, drop your membership. Take criticism, but not insults or useless feedback. You should also get along with the other members.
  • Offer Questions, Not Solutions. You can’t tell people how to fix things – it’s not your work. You can, however, explain your confusion, and offer helpful suggestions.
  • It May Cost Money. $20 per year per member should be enough to designate consistent private spaces for your group, but this varies. Some people may not want to pay. Don’t feel bad telling them no.
  • Submit Work in Advance. Submitting your work 5 days in advance to Dropbox or a Google Drive shared folder can help prevent last-minute work. It shouldn’t be a set-in-stone rule though. It will often not be followed.

Places to Find Members:

  • Local conferences (and sometimes non-local, if you’re okay with online-only)
  • Workshops, college classes, etc.
  • Online (Craigslist is an awesome tool for this)
  • Through a writer’s association membership (via resources or networking)

Create a Member Application that includes the following questions:

  • What are your goals as a writer working within a critique group?
  • What sort of feedback are you looking for?
  • How often would you like to meet?
  • Are you willing to pay an annual fee of [$$$] to help the group later designate meeting places?

Set Goals and Parameters within the group, based upon the questionnaire answers. Make sure everyone knows:

  • How often and where you are meeting. Make sure this is set in stone!
  • How to contact each other and use the technology necessary to share documents (e.g. Dropbox).
  • What sort of feedback you are looking for (based on application responses).
  • The grounds for removal from the group (e.g. they can’t skip more than five meetings a year, and can’t miss a submission more than two times in a row).

In my next post in this CWC Recap Series, I’ll go over the On Writing Crossover Fiction session from CWC 2015.

Session I Missed: To see this session, I had to miss the Late Bloomers: Publishing Later in Life session. If you went to this session, consider doing a simultaneous or guest blog to correspond with my CWC Recap!

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