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Conferences are great, but I think it's good to mingle with other writers on a regular basis.  I belong to two writing groups, the GSHW (Garden State Horror Writers), and the Monmouth Creative Writing Group.  I like the GSHW because of the speaker program and the in-depth, written critiques available there.  I no longer attend the Monmouth Writers' meetings, but I still maintain most of my online friendships through their Yahoo Group (which I moderate). 

I guess everyone gets something different from these things, but I'm curious; if you belong to a writing group, what is it that drew you there?  What keeps you going back?  If you used to attend one, but don't any more, what made you leave?  Maybe you've never felt the need to join an organization.  Why is that? 

If you could create the perfect writing group, what would it offer?


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( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
mongrelheart
May. 16th, 2009 11:07 pm (UTC)
I've been very fortunate to be part of a small online writing group, the psychocommagrlz for several years. We all met online, but since then most of us have managed to meet up in real life. Some of us have been published, some of us are working on it. I think the best thing about the group (other than the fact that they're all good folks, no divas or egos or drama) is that it's very active & energetic. We read and critique each other's work on a regular basis, and have weekly online "write-ins" (10 minutes with a writing prompt) in a chat room. Since the group started, we've all learned a lot about writing, reading critically, and critiquing, and though we're all friends, we don't pull our punches when it comes to crits. Some of us attended the Surrey Int'l Writing Conference as a group 2 years ago, & had an awesome time (as well as having our minds blown by Donald Maass).
jongibbs
May. 17th, 2009 10:26 am (UTC)
Interesting :) Is there a reason you never joined a local group?

PS: I met Donald Maass at the BEA in New York a couple of years ago. He did a workshop on creating conflict. I think his book, Writing the Breakout Novel, is a must-read.
mongrelheart
May. 17th, 2009 05:30 pm (UTC)
Hehe y'know it's weird, I never really sought out a local group--possibly because my needs were already being met by my online group.

Maass' Writing the Breakout Novel (and the accompanying workbook) have helped me out *sooo* much. (To the point where i started using his name as a verb: "I'm Maass'ing my novel!" LOL)
jongibbs
May. 17th, 2009 07:37 pm (UTC)
Maassing. I like it :)
a_r_williams
May. 16th, 2009 11:18 pm (UTC)
I've never officially belonged to a non-internet based group, but I would like to try it. During NanoWrimo they have community sit-ins at local bookstores. I never did bother to go to any though.

"If you could create the perfect writing group, what would it offer?"

I think the perfect writing group would be a balance of different levels of writers. Maybe about 25% professional and published. 50% semi-professional with a few minor publications or regularly submitting work to magazines/editors/agents. And the other 25% would be newbies or amateur writers.

The group would need to focus on genres that are relatively similar to one another, so no one would find themselves too far out of their preferred reading categories.

Good advice on writing related topics and people willing to offer detailed critiques and positive reinforcement.
jongibbs
May. 17th, 2009 10:29 am (UTC)
That sounds like a great balance. I find the detailed critiques especially helpful, though they're often not what I want to hear :(
garyfrank
May. 19th, 2009 05:42 pm (UTC)
You really do need to have a number of professionals who are published so that the new people have a goal, can see tangible evidence that writing regularly pays off. If you have a group of newbies, the group tends to hit a point where, unless those running the meeting set the agenda and run with it, the group flounders without direction.

The GSHW is genre oriented: science fiction, fantasy, horror, mystery, crime ... yet no romance unlss it's an aspect of one of the other genres.
jongibbs
May. 19th, 2009 06:41 pm (UTC)
'The GSHW is genre oriented: science fiction, fantasy, horror, mystery, crime ... yet no romance'

It's ironic really. After all, there's a fine line between romance and horror ;)
namelessarchon
May. 17th, 2009 01:16 am (UTC)
LJ is my writing group. I find all I need here, and it is terribly easy to just fade away if you like, no strings attached.
jongibbs
May. 17th, 2009 10:33 am (UTC)
I see your point, but sometimes we need a little push. I've found the self-imposed deadline that comes from wanting to have something to read out at an up-coming meeting can help me set myself to work, when otherwise, I might have drifted for a while.

Edited at 2009-05-17 10:33 am (UTC)
mongrelheart
May. 17th, 2009 05:32 pm (UTC)
I definitely agree, even an informal deadline provides loads of helpful motivation (& accountability).

How many members do you have in GSHW?
jongibbs
May. 17th, 2009 07:36 pm (UTC)
We have members throughout New Jersey, and some out of state, but they don't all attend the regular events. I'd say there's a hardcore of about fifteen who turn up to most meetings, with up to another ten to fifteen who show up every now and then. Our guest speaker events meetings are open to the public so we get a few new faces most each time (some from the other writing group I belong to).
garyfrank
May. 19th, 2009 05:53 pm (UTC)
The perfect writing group would be...serious writers, committed not only to their writing, but also to their own success. Most writers are committed to writing but don't believe in their own success.

A percentage, as AR Williams stated, should be published, either novelists or short story writers. They should be enthusiastic about writing (obviously) but also enthusiastic about the success of the group as a whole and willing to volunteer if needed. As an example, the GSHW has a board that consists of a president, vice president, treasurer and secretary.

As new writers join a group to learn about writing, they're not in a position to volunteer, hence you have to have published members willing to take on those roles and guide the group.

Having industry professionals (editors and agents) as part of the group is also important. They have their finger on the pulse of publishing and can keep the group informed of trends, publisher news, and the like. The Liberty States Fiction Writers has a number of industry professionals and its very useful to have them around.

Beyond published authors, those who have some credits to their name, and industry professionals, the rest of the group can be whomever.

The other benefit to having a group with published members is that they know what it takes to get published (how to make a story sparkle) and can help those who haven't through critique groups. A writers group filled with unpublished authors can help each other polish stories to the best of the members' abilities, but may not be able to get those stories to publishable quality.


Gary . . .
jongibbs
May. 19th, 2009 06:45 pm (UTC)
I like the balance of published/non-published writers that Aaron suggests. It's encouraging to read about the success of people you know from a writing group, like your two published books for example :)
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )

Things What I Wrote and Other Stuff

No longer in print but there are still some copies floating around out there


No longer in print but there are still some copies floating around out there















 











THE MEAGER PUDDLE OF LIMELIGHT AWARDS


Books by my writer friends - compressed

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