Monday, April 18, 2011

What Type of Writing Group?

I mentioned writing communities recently. Here is a nice write-up from Guide to Literary Agents about how to determine what type of group is good for you (it looks like the author of the article has a book about a writing group - interesting!)

I agree with her that groups are best when ground rules are established and followed. One of the reasons I like the group I've been attending is that the leader moves the group along if they get too sidetracked (and he will specifically note that everyone is invited to brunch afterward). The first part of the group is a topic to discuss, which the leader has researched and provided materials to review, sometimes the session before. It was my own fault I didn't read the handout before class last time, but at least I knew I had the opportunity :)

Submission guidelines for my group are outlined, which I felt helped me to be able to take that scary first step and submit some work. The first week I was there, a submission handed back to a regular participant because it exceeded the maximum length by quite a bit. The particpant said he was too busy to bother with the guidelines (I just realized I haven't seen him since). The leader returned the submission with tact and suggested that everyone in the group is busy, and that's why there is a word count limit. Longer submissions should be split up into separate documents, submitted for separate class reviews. It might sound picky, but I definitely appreciate this after having just reviewed about 7 submissions from the group for this coming Saturday's meeting. It takes a lot of time to give an adequate critique.

So, this weekend will be my first experience on the receiving end of a writing critique (that is not school or work related). I'm nervous, but based on what I've witnessed in my time with the group, I know they will be constructive and not bashing. Well, maybe one guy might bash, he's a little blunt. I'm looking forward to the comments since the group has such a variety of writers.

I'm sure I'll post more on this as time moves on. Meanwhile, I woke up with a story idea and wrote about 2 or 3 chapters worth of material in my head as I got ready for work and drove my 30 minute commute. I would really like to get this out of my head and see if it's worth pursuing!


  1. Hello. You seem to know what you're talking about. I like. (Ugh, this sounds like a spam comment.)

    I was in a writing group a few weeks ago, for about 5 months time. It was online. I think that contributed to it being horrible -- everything sounds more impersonal online. Also one go would blatantly go over the word count. "Don't read it if you don't want to!" he'd say... yeah right. That annoyed me. If I just refused to read his stuff, I would look like a bitch, you know? Our "leader" had nothing to say about that.

    Oh writing group drama! I'm out now, and much better for it.

    But I am pretty interested in trying an in-person group.

  2. I said "go" when I meant "guy." Drr.

  3. Jaimie, I love the header on your website! I think I need to spruce mine up a bit.

    I'm new to all this focused writing stuff (as in, being intentional about it) and definitely learning as I go. A friend invited me to the writer's group and we tried it out together. It can be scary to venture out there. Ours meets at a public library.

    It's an older crowd, like more our parents age with a few others who look in their mid to late 30s. I think this is a benefit though; they are thoughtful and not all about me-me-me.


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