What makes a good writing group?

Questions to ask about a writing group.

Coloured pencils Jess Watters Unsplash

There many opinions on what makes a good writing group, but I think that we can agree on a few things.Most of us need the right sized group, one that meets at a convenient time and place and one that helps us to grow as writers and to achieve our aims.So, if you are considering joining a writing group it pays to ask a few questions.

  1. What is the composition of the group?Does it matter to you if it is a mixed or a single-sex group? Both types of groups can have advantages and disadvantages. A mixed group provides a microcosm of the potential readership for your stories or book. However, that can be challenging ii your stories are not mainstream.Crime and fantasy/sci-fi appeal to both genders, while other types of writing typically appeal more to one or the other. For example, romance writing has a mainly female authorship and readership; while war stories mostly appeal to men.
  2.  Does Age Matter?people-woman-coffee-meeting.jpgThe general age in the group may be a factor for you, although it is wise to be flexible about this. Talent is not confined to one age group and both younger and older members can contribute to the dynamic of a mixed age group.3. How friendly do you need the group to be?Many of us complete our best work inspired by a little ‘friendly’ competition. And the operative word is friendly. Many writers have a horror story or two to tell of savage criticism towards their work or even their personality( a real no, no!) which has wounded them and eroded their confidence in their writing abilities. A good facilitator should prevent this, reminding everyone that the focus is solely on the work. Any group that is not welcoming to new members and encouraging of them is not a place that you want or need to be.

    4 What do you want?Writng laptop thougth Catalogue

    A good writing group is a community of like-minded people, one that provides that ‘safe space’ in which to discuss your work. There is no need to bore your long-suffering family, instead talk to the people who understand the blow of rejection and the thrill of success. The members of a writing group near you.

    As I was writing this post I asked various group members about their experiences with our writing group. The group I attend meets weekly and is a mixed group.Members attend writing events and the group books authors as speakers.

    5. What Writing Group Members Say About Their Writing Group

    One member said’ I need the inspiration of others work, I am fascinated by the way that other people write and think’.

    This is an aspect of a writing group that is so intriguing, that there are so many different approaches to writing about one topic.

    Another commented’ each week I struggle and I am amazed when people say that I am improving.’As mentioned earlier, we may be the harshest critics of our own work and a group can provide objectivity.

    A third said ‘the group has inspired me to try different styles and ways of writing’

    A veteran of other groups noted that ‘some groups tend to be dominated by egos, which can be very stressful’

    A member who had not written since junior school commented that it was ‘right place, right time,’ adding cheekily the group picked me!’ She continued more seriously by saying that ‘written has been ( and is) challenging, yet stimulating’

    As for me, it is no exaggeration to say that joining a ringgit group changed my life. Writing group members encouraged me to apply for mature age university entrance. I was accepted and had some of the most challenging yet thrilling years of my life. Following on from that I submitted my writing and had some stories and articles published in national magazines. None of which I would have accomplished without the help and support of my writing group.

    So pluck up your courage and think about joining your local writing group. Your local library will most likely have the details of local groups

     

Author: soniabellhouse

Sonia Bellhouse is a contributor to Writing the Dream, an anthology for published writers produced by Serenity Press in 2016. In 2012she won two major awards in the inaugural Rockingham Short Fiction contest. Sonia's articles and stories are published in various magazines both in Australia and the UK. These include Good reading, Today's Bride, That's Life! and That's Life! Fast Fiction in Australia and Yours, The People's Friend and Best of British in the Uk. Sonia worked as a book reviewer for two years .As an avid reader and writer of multiple genres she facilitated a local book club for eleven years. She reluctantly decided to give it up, to concentrate on her writing. Sonia is a long time member of a writers group, regularly engaging authors to present workshops to the group.. Sonia enjoys catching up with friends, ignoring the ironing in favour of playing with her cat and learning new things. She's taken several online courses with Future Learn and The University of Iowa for both writing and non writing topics.