Earlier this month we discussed how to find a writing group, how to make sure that you have selected the right people to be in a writing group with, and now I would like to attack the essential question of what you should do with your writing group once you have done all of that hard work!
What Should You Do With Your Writing Group?
Even if you find the right people, if you do not use your time wisely, the group will not help you grow. This was the missing piece for the first couple of writing groups I found. The group I am in now (and ended up becoming the organizer for) had the perfect balance of activities, and the right schedule, to fit my needs. Here’s what we do and why why do it:
Shut up and write. Write-ins are nothing more than a time and place to write. For us, that’s a local library every Tuesday from 5pm – 7:45pm (closing). Not everyone needs this, but it is nice to get out of the house and know that the only thing expected of you in that time and space is to work on your current writing project.
Monthly Writing Prompt Meetings
I find these activities essential to my growth as a writer. Each month we pick a prompt, write for 15-20minutes, and then read what we wrote aloud. It’s scary at first, but it is awesome. The prompts constantly force me to think differently about how and what I write. I may not do anything with the pieces I write, but the skills I learn there always come back to my WIPs.
Monthly Critique Meetings
Using the meetup.com’s group page, members attending this meeting upload something they wish to be critiqued. All members scheduled to come are committed to reading and having a critique ready for the meeting time. At the meeting we discuss each work in turn, giving each member an opportunity to discuss what they liked, what didn’t work for them, what may have confused them as a reader, and what suggestions they have for the piece. This is the single most essential part of writing group for those who are ready to delve seriously into improving their current WIPs.
For now, this is all that we are doing within our “serious writing time” (when we branch out, I’ll let you know!). We do, however, have social outings as well. This became an important addition to our group once a core group of us felt a friendship grow between us. Before we broke down and admitted that we had become more than just writing buddies, we found that too much of our writing time was spent catching up, chit chatting and having a good time. Don’t get me wrong, this is not a bad thing — it is, in fact, wonderful — but if you want to be a serious writer then you have to make sure you set aside a time and place for it!
Don’t leave without leaving a comment!
What activities do you find to be most helpful to your growth as a writer?
If you have met with a writing group in the past, or if you are a member of one now, what things have been done at your meetings?