But then this supervisor threw me a curveball. She asked me about writing groups. She asked if I participate in any and how they have worked out for me. Well, there is a story in and of itself!
the Internet because, the only one that has worked out, has been online,
comprised of people who are not only spread across the country, but across the
This group is on my writers’ forum at SFFWorld.com. They are a great bunch of people and I talk with them via forum posts, emails, and other ways nearly every day. I even got to meet one in real life at the beginning of the year!
As I’ve said, that is the only writing group I have been a part of that has been anywhere near successful. The online group is the second group I tried, and all the others have been local, in person from the beginning.
I enjoy getting together with other writers. Talking about my writing, your writing, another writing-buddy’s writing, I find it all fascinating.
But I digress. My local, in person writing groups have all lasted less than six
months. There were a handful of people in each one. None of them were formal groups with dozens or even hundreds of members, monthly meetings with speakers and membership dues. I found each one on Craigslist.
I think it is great to meet in person. I keep trying to find a local group of writers to do just that with. However, there are some things I have learned to look out for in a local group.
1. If you are a genre writer such as I am, look for others writing in similar genres. For myself, I look for writers of Fantasy, Sci-Fi, and Horror. No matter their story’s particular sub-genre, the writers in these genres are all writing something themselves that makes it a little easier for them to relate to what you are writing. Writers in other genres should step-up and try to relate, learn to
relate, but it can be hard and we humans are creatures of habit. And reading and writing in this one or these few genres or non-genres is very much a thing of habit.
2. Have a set location and scope it out first. Will you meet at a member’s house? At a coffee shop or restaurant? Do they have a big enough table for the whole group to sit around and for you to all have a laptop, spiral notebook, etc? What about the price of food? You’re going to be there for a while. You will, at least, have something to drink. Do all group members feel comfortable with the price?
3. Find people who are as dedicated to their writing as you are. I cannot stress this one enough. It should really be #1 as I have found that it is the most important of all. If the people in your group are not dedicated to their writing and have half a dozen other activities and hobbies which they put ahead of their writing—and I’m not talking about the job that pays the bills here—then you will
have a problem. Your group needs to be dedicated to both your individual works and to the group as a whole. Life will come up. Meetings that run late, relationships, car problems, and on and on and on. These things can be worked out, group meetings can be rescheduled, meeting spaces changed. But if there is a lack of dedication, then nothing else you do will make your group a
My last, local group ended at the beginning of 2013. As I write this, I am looking back and thinking, that was probably the best thing that could have happened to me writing-wise last year. If I had continued with them, I would not have been able to complete the first draft of my novel, and then rewrite it four more times within the next nine months.
So, sometimes, failure is not always bad. In addition to the novel, the failure of my various groups taught me what to watch out for when I try again the next time.