Guest post by Heather Green
A writers group is one of the best ways to improve your writing and get feedback on your story before you attempt publication. However, not all writers groups are as successful as others. It’s important you carefully consider your ultimate goals in writing and your writing style when forming a group. It’s also crucial to set clear guidelines and rules to make the group work more effectively. Here are four tips to get you started.
Determine the Purpose of the Group
It helps to be in a group with like-minded writers. Some writers groups will focus primarily on writing for the sake of writing, and many members do not intend to pursue serious publication. Other groups are more focused on publication and may take the craft of writing a marketable novel more seriously. Both types of groups are valid and work well. You may also have a mix in your group. As you become more serious about writing, you may gravitate towards a group that is more focused on publishing.
Decide on the Type of Writing for the Group
Some mixed groups work well, but it can be difficult for someone who writes children’s books to get effective feedback from someone who is focused on writing mysteries. Both types of writing are of equal value, but they take a very different approach. Some crossovers will work better than others. For example, you can often combine people who write young adult books with middle grade books or across genres within the same age group. Similarly, young adult romance authors and adult romance authors may be able to help each other in a writing group. Nonfiction writers may work better with a group focused on nonfiction.
Set a Schedule
Setting up a schedule will make it easier for the group to function properly. You can determine how often you meet and the amount of work each group member submits. If you meet each week, you may have members rotate when they submit, or you may require a set number of pages from each member each week. You’ll need to limit the size of the group so you can effectively critique each person. The schedule is paramount to making the group work. It’s important to have consistent meeting times, and to have someone who will control that aspect of the group.
Another slice of the schedule may include focusing on a certain aspect of writing. You may assign a different group member to give a presentation on a writing skill, tip or trick each meeting, followed by an assignment or exercise. This can help each writer improve and look for specific areas to work on each week.
Another critical group feature is to set up clear guidelines when it comes to providing critiques. If you are meeting as a group, it helps to have the material beforehand so everyone can read it over a few times and offer more meaningful suggestions. If you’re not comfortable doing that, have each writer provide a paper copy at the critique group so members can write comments on the paper.
Critiquing guidelines need to address critiquing etiquette. It’s essential you provide meaningful feedback without being malicious or totally tearing something apart. It helps to find some specific things to praise as well as specific things to work on.
About the Author:
Heather Green is a freelance writer for several regional magazines in North Carolina as well as a resident blogger for onlinenursingdegrees.org. Her writing experience includes fashion, business, health, agriculture and a wide range of other topics. Heather has just completed research on online nursing programs and associates in nursing.
Alanna – I just joined a writer's group at our local library. I have no idea how it's going to be run, but it's nice to have some guidelines in case I'm able to have input.
Hi Kass! It's great to hear from you! I'm excited to hear you joined a writer's group and I'm glad this post was useful for you. I think it's a good thing when all the members of the group have input. I hope you enjoy your new group!