All you really need to start your writers' group are other writers and someplace to meet with them. Here are some ideas:
- If you know any writers, ask them if they would like to form a writers' group. If you don't know any other writers, try visiting a local college campus (evening writing classes draw writers of all ages and abilities). Another good place to meet writers is at writers' conferences, listings of which can be found in writing magazines, such as The Writer and Writers' Digest (you can also find listings of conferences through some of our links). Try to keep the group small. More than 5 or 6 writers may limit the ability of the group to critique one another's work.
- Once you've gathered some writers together, hold an initial meeting. You'll need to make the following decisions:
- How often you will meet, what time, where, and for how long. (Our group meets every other Thursday night at 7:00 p.m. at members' homes or at coffee bars, for approximately 2 hours.)
- How much material each author can submit for critique at each meeting. (10 pages per person per meeting is a good place to start. If you have more than four members, you may wish to divide the group in half, with one half submitting material one week, and the other half submitting the following week.)
- Whether the group prefers to read the work to be critiqued at home and bring comments to the meeting, or whether the authors are to read their work aloud at the meeting and invite comment. (We bring our work to the meetings and read it out loud-we've found this to be helpful to the authors.)
- What kind of writing you wish to include in your group. (The 6' Ferret Writers' Group, for example, is for fiction writers. Some groups are for poetry only, while others do not set any limits to what kind of writing is included.)
- Any rules of conduct you may wish to have, including choosing a leader or mediator.
- Whether or not you wish write by-laws for your group. Written by-laws clearly establish the group's expectations of new members, and this can come in handy as your group grows. You may wish to view the By Laws of The 6' Ferret Writers' Group for some ideas.
- Whether or not you wish to have each member report in on what they've accomplished since the last meeting, and, if so, assign someone the task of writing this down.
- Remember to be fair and honest when critiquing one another's work. The purpose of the group is to provide honest thoughts on members' work, but don't forget that writers' egos are fragile. Be sure to point out the parts that work well, not only the parts that don't. For additional information about
critiques, see our Critique Guidelines page.
That's all you need to get started! Over time, your group will evolve, provided you have a core group of dedicated members to keep it alive.
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