By Amber Roshay
Writing and blogging can be a lonely business. Most of the time it’s you and womankind. Cough. Cough. Okay, maybe you and your computer. Or you and the procrastinator who lives inside your head. Maybe you need a writing group.
Most of the time you write alone. Or if you’re like me, with two toddlers sorda of sleeping in the other room.
But writing for most people takes some sort of isolation or quiet to get the job done. But the best writing isn’t always done in isolation. Excellent writing can be the result of a collaboration.
Collaboration can happen in different ways but one life-changing way is to start a writing group.
When I was first considering the writing path, I took a creative non-fiction class at a community college. I remember the professor, a soft-spoken man in his sixties with students lined up for his course. I was one of the lucky ones who got in.
At the end of the class, I passed around a piece of paper asking if anyone wanted to join a writing group. I don’t know what overcame me. Being young or foolish or desperate. Either way, my twenty-two-year old inexperience screamed, I can’t do this alone.
One week later, I was rewarded.
Four women and one man came to my house to write. We had different ages, backgrounds, and writing voices, yet we all had the burning desire to write and to share our writing.
This was how Circle Wednesday began. For five years, we met every other Wednesday for two to three hours.
Now I want to show you how to start a writing group. Believe me, it’ll be one of the best things you’ve ever done for your writing and blogging life.
8 Tips for Starting a Writing Group
Where to Find Your Tribe
One of the best places is to take a writing course and connect with like-minded writers and bloggers. After I became a writer, I became a teacher and now have created a writing and blogging course, Get Paid to Write Quality Blog Posts. In this course, we dive deep into finding your tribe.
We also have a Pen & Parent Facebook group for parents and writers. Join us and then post looking for members.
Other places to find your tribe might be at your job. I also formed a writing group with co-workers. I picked two people I thought might want to write and approached them. They then suggested two other people and before we knew it, we had a writing group.
Remember to be Brave
When I passed around the paper asking for members, I was scared. What if no-one wanted to join? Or what if I didn’t like the people who did come? But one thing about myself that’s always been true, I’ve never been afraid to try something, even if I make a fool of myself. So remember to be brave. You’ll be rewarded.
Set the Rules
Once you do find your tribe, it’s important to set clear rules and boundaries. I knew that I wanted the group to be supportive and open-minded.
During our first meeting, we discussed the rules and set them. We decided that we would meet every two weeks at a different house, to ease the pressure of hosting.
The host wasn’t required to offer anything but water. And the most important rule was that we wrote. But what we wrote didn’t matter.
At the beginning of the group, we would start with a writing prompt. We rotated who led. Then we wrote for 20 minutes. Afterward, we could share what we wrote or we’d read something we wanted to be workshopped.
Since we met in a creative non-fiction class, most of the writing was creative non-fiction, but some members, including myself, would bring short stories or chapters from a novel they were working on.Whatever rules you decide upon, they need to be simple, clear and followed by everyone.
Support Each Other
It’s a writing group, not a competition. You aren’t there to win a prize, but rather to write and help each other become better writers and bloggers. Give constructive feedback with empathy. Ask yourself, how would you like to hear criticism?
Be Willing to Share
In a writing group, you need to share some of the deepest parts of yourself. In fact, this is what will come out in the group. Writing prompts (if you start this way) bring out parts of yourself and life that have remained hidden.By sharing your writing you’ll become close to the members of the group and even if you only see them every other week, you’ll know them better than most of your friends.
Determine Your Outcome
Just as setting the rules is important, so is deciding what you want from the group.
In my first writing group, one member wanted to finally share her novel with others, without having to get it officially published. Another member wanted to write a short story collection. I wanted to write my first novel. Others just came to write. Decide what you want from the group, and work towards that goal.
Go on a Writing Retreat
I know this might not be possible for some working parents, but getting away for the weekend to focus on your writing and blogging is magical. One time we rented a cabin overlooking the ocean. We stayed for two days writing and sharing. Another time, we paid for a weekend workshop with a writing teacher. It was awesome.Making the time to focus solely on what’s important, helps clarify your writing and blogging goals. You need to take these “artist dates.” But I realize this isn’t an option for a lot of people. But, if it is, I’m giving you a firm, but supportive nudge to dive in.
Make the Meeting Time Consistent
It’s important that each meeting time is set before you leave the last meeting. I recommend picking the same day and time every other week. Not everyone will be able to make it, but if you don’t set the time or have a consistent schedule, the group will fizzle out. The dedicated members will come and the heart of the group will form.
And, I think in person is better, but in today’s day and age with smartphones our new bestie, you can always meet online, in a group chat or create an email string of shared writing. After I moved cities and left my writing group, we used snail mail to share writing for two more years. This was how much we loved our group.
However you form your writing group, I know that you’ll discover the benefits of a writing group.
Start now and join Get Paid to Write Quality Blog Posts. One of my main tenets of the course is to help you find your writing voice and tribe. The reason is that I know how important connecting with other writers and bloggers is for your growth as a writer.
In the meantime, I want to know what you think the benefits of a writing group are? Tell me about them in the comments below.
Until next time. . . Remember that positive change comes from consistent actions over a period of time. You got this.