Writing is a wonderful hobby or an excellently freeing career — but how do you get started? And how do you know whether your new opus is actually any good?
Indeed, writing is a solitary affair, and hearing your words out loud can be a real game changer for developing your writing.
This article is about how to find a writers’ group near you that can help ripen your embryonic idea into a workable piece of literature or non-fiction.
What are you waiting for? Let’s go!
What is a writers’ group?
There are many types of writing group activities, from face-to-face reading sessions to online meetings. But most groups share one thing in common: they’re about sharing, discussing, and offering constructive critique.
Some writer’s groups are based merely on geography and locality, while others form as a way to develop a specific style of writing: fantasy fiction, LGBTQI+ fiction, women’s fiction, etc.
So, when looking for a writers’ group near me, consider WHAT you want to be a part of. Are you simply grateful to share work with other writers because you live close by? Or do you want the opinions of other writers tuned in to your particular niche?
What happens in a writers’ group?
Every group is different, and each will develop their own approach to running sessions. But almost all writers’ groups will include:
- Reading — this is the core of the action (and why most writers turn up for the session!). Hearing your words out loud for the first time can be a game changer.
- Discussion — talking about your content offers new insight into the words on the page. Sometimes, a writer brings something they’ve written that day, and this is the first time they’ve read it aloud. Discussion is a great way to transform an abstract or unformed idea into something more workable.
- Feedback — every writer has to learn how to take criticism because their professional lives are pretty much built on it. Feedback offered in a writers’ group should be supportive and constructive, showing the writer new ideas and approaches to help develop the work.
Some groups get together not just to read but to write. While a typical writers’ group reads each other’s work, some engage in writing exercises and share that new work. More about that later.
Writers’ Groups are social
Ultimately, writers’ groups are valuable because they allow writers to leave the confinement of their home office. This can be a very welcome relief from the solitariness of the writer’s existence.
For example, the writers’ group I attend brings snacks and wine to each meeting, putting everyone at ease in a pleasant, friendly setting.
What is a typical writing exercise in a writers’ group?
There are many different types of writing exercises you might engage in with your writing group. Some of the best activities are character studies, where you’ll be challenged to come up with a back story for your characters; even the minor ones.
But you might also explore new starting points or be prompted to try different forms to find answers that help develop your writing.
Some examples of writers’ group exercises:
- Freewriting: Set a timer for a specific duration (e.g., 10-15 minutes) and write continuously without stopping or editing your thoughts. This helps to overcome writer’s block and get your creative juices flowing.
- The Six-Word Story: Write a complete story using only six words, a challenging but fun exercise to help with brevity and clarity.
- Character Development: Create a character profile, complete with physical appearance, personality traits, background, and relationships. This helps in building well-rounded, believable characters in your stories.
- Setting Description: Choose a location (real or imaginary) and write a vivid description of the environment, focusing on the five senses to create an immersive experience for the reader.
- Random First Line: Generate a random first line and use it as the starting point for a short story or scene. This exercise encourages flexibility and adaptability in your writing.
- Dialogue Exercise: Write a conversation between two characters without using any dialogue tags (e.g., “he said” or “she asked”). This helps in developing strong, distinct voices for your characters.
- The “What If” Scenario: Choose a “what if” scenario (e.g., “What if the world suddenly lost all electricity?”) and write a story exploring the consequences and potential narrative arcs that could arise from this situation.
How do I find a writers’ group near me?
It’s not always easy to find a writers’ group nearby, depending on where you live. However, if you live in a city, there are likely to be more choices. But don’t fret if you live out in the country.
Here are some ways to find a writers’ group near you:
How do I find an online group for writers?
Use local resources
Check local libraries, bookstores, and community centers for information about writers’ groups. They often host or have information about such groups.
Consider looking nationally
Look for regional or national organizations with local chapters, such as the Hawaii Island Writers Group, Maine Poets Society, or Central Arkansas Speculative Fiction Writers’ Group.
Don’t forget Facebook – it’s a marvelous resource for finding like-minded groups and individuals.
Visit their websites or social media pages to find information about local meetings and events.
Check out online forums
Join online forums, social media groups, or writing communities where writers discuss their experiences and share information about local groups and events.
Try some of these:
- Writing Forums: This community is ideal for writers looking to improve their skills and receive feedback from other members.
- Mythic Scribes: Perfect for fantasy authors, this community focuses on world-building and historical research discussions.
- She Writes: A community for female authors, offering business tips and networking opportunities.
- NaNoWriMo Forums: A supportive community for writers participating in the annual National Novel Writing Month challenge.
- SFF Chronicles: The Science Fiction & Fantasy Community forum provides discussions, resources, and support for science fiction and fantasy writers.
- Critique Circle: An online writing community where authors post their work for critique and provide feedback on others’ writing.
- Underlined: A platform for young adult writers to share their work and engage with others in their age group.
- Writing.Com: A large writing community catering to various genres, offering resources, contests, and networking opportunities.
- Reddit: There are numerous subreddits dedicated to writing, such as r/writing, r/WritersGroup, and r/WritingPrompts.
- Scribophile: One of the largest online writing communities where writers post their work for critique and give feedback to others.
- Absolute Write Water Cooler, AgentQuery, and BookRix: These communities offer connections with like-minded writers, feedback, and interactions with other authors.
Joining the appropriate community based on your needs and interests can significantly enhance your writing skills and creativity.
Do some networking
Networking might feel super-cringe, but it’s one of the best ways to meet other writers. Remember, many other writers will feel the same way about networking, so you’re not alone.
Attend writing conferences, workshops, and literary events to meet fellow writers who may know of or be part of a writers’ group.
Start your own writers’ group
Can’t find an existing group that suits your needs? Why not start your own writers’ group?
Reach out to other writers through social media, writing forums, or local events to gauge interest and form a new group.
How do you get into a writers’ group?
Getting into a writers’ group isn’t necessarily as simple as finding a group and joining. Because each group might have a specific focus.
So, consider the following:
- Your writing style and interests.
- What you’re looking for: Feedback? Support? Or just camaraderie with other writers?
- Attend a group and see if you’re a good fit. Don’t take it personally if you don’t feel like it’s for you!
- Introduce yourself to a new group, and share your work.
- Be prepared to offer feedback to others.
- Demonstrate your commitment to the group. Show up when you say you will, and bring work. Be there to support others as much as you’re there to receive support.
Finding a writer’s group near me
Finding a writers’ group near you can be a rewarding and inspiring experience that not only helps you grow as a writer but also fosters meaningful connections with like-minded individuals.
Search online, use local resources, and be prepared to do a little networking with fellow writers, and you’ll be on your way to discovering a supportive and collaborative community.
Don’t hesitate to take the plunge and immerse yourself in the enriching world of writers’ groups – your creativity and skills will undoubtedly flourish.
Harry Wallett is the Founder and Managing Director of Relay Publishing. Combining his entrepreneurial background with a love of great stories, Harry founded Relay in 2013 as a fresh way to create books and for writers to earn a living from their work. Since then, Relay has sold 3+ million copies and worked with 100s of writers on bestselling titles such as Defending Innocence, The Alveria Dragon Akademy Series and Rancher’s Family Christmas. Harry oversees the creative direction of the company, and works to develop a supportive collaborative environment for the Relay team to thrive within in order to fulfill our mission to create unputdownable books.
Relay Publishing Wants You
If you think you have what it takes to become a brilliant writer, editor, or storyliner, Relay Publishing has a range of exciting opportunities.