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What do you look for in a writing group?

What do you look for in a writing group?

If you've some experience of writing groups, good or bad, I'd appreciate your input.

Poll #1841662 Writing groups

Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of a writing group


If 'Yes', why did you hope to gain from joining?

I wanted to get critique/feedback on my own writing
workshops/presentations on writing-related subjects
Critique groups with other writers in my genre
Something else, which I'll explain in the comments

If 'No', is there a particular reason why not?

Something else, which I'll explain in the comments

When you attended your first few meetings with the group, was there something which made a big impression (good or bad)?

If 'Yes' please explain in a comment

What would make you leave a writing group?

Not a good fit for me/my writing
Membership fees too expensive
Too far away
Uncomfortable atmosphere
Unfriendly atmosphere
Too few members
Too many members
Something else, which I'll explain in the comments

If there's something not covered in the poll, please feel free to leave a comment anyway. I'm particularly interested in things which made a big impression on you, either in a good or bad way.

Related posts:
What would put you off from joining/staying with a writing group?

The Critiquee's Charter

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May. 21st, 2012 04:55 pm (UTC)
I was sort of in a writing group (a real life one, anyway), for like...five weeks. In November 2010, I was doing NaNo and our ML for Connecticut sent out an email saying someone in a nearby town was looking to start a writer's group. I emailed the girl who was looking to start it (a few years younger than me), and asked if she'd like a co-leader. She said yes. We agreed to have two places to meet- the library in my town and then the library in basically her town. I was only ever able to go the meetings in my town, mainly because I'd either get scheduled to work and/or I wouldn't have a way to get down there (I don't like driving in unfamiliar places, and...yeah).

I ended up making a message board that we were going to use for discussions when we weren't meeting. Oh but wait! This was after I had already suggested a Facebook group and the suggestion was ignored by the person I was supposed to be co-leading the group with. Then someone ended up suggesting a Facebook group after a few weeks of trying to use the message board, and they went ahead and made one. Funny how that works. (You're going to see a fair amount of bitterness in this story, haha.)

The few meetings I went to weren't that bad. I never had anything critiqued (which in hindsight was probably a good thing, because there was a woman there who...well, she made it obvious that she knew a lot about writing, and I have a feeling she would have been really harsh about my writing). It was a little awkward because this girl that I'd met at the one meet up that I led during NaNo (this whole thing with the group wasn't even until after NaNo had ended) came to the meetings and she kind of did some things that kind of indirectly embarrassed me.

There were some other things that irritated me...I think certain discussions on the Facebook group...but otherwise things were kind of okay.

Then one day, I get an email from the same woman who I'd call a writing snob. It was sent to both me and the girl who'd come to the meet up I'd led during November, and it said the following:

We (insert everyone else but myself and ONE OTHER MEMBER) have had a long discussion about what we want out of a writing group and where we would like the group to go in the future. During this discussion we decided that, for various reasons (basic logistics, personalities, experience levels, goals, etc.),will be splitting off from Tales of the Muse and forming our own group.

We all wish you both the best of luck with your writing and with Tales of the Muse and hope that in time you will attract many more members with similar wants and needs as yourselves.

(Insert their names here)

I can see why they didn't want the other girl to be involved, kind of, but me? They barley interacted with me. I never showed them any of my writing.

The stupid thing is that we were meeting at a public place, so it's not like they could actually KEEP me from showing up...what if we'd put flyers up and other people decided to join in on the meetings?

I ended up making this super long, haha. Continued in next comment.
May. 21st, 2012 04:55 pm (UTC)
I ended up just not even bothering to respond to the email. I was too pissed off, and eventually I realized it just wasn't even worth it. I didn't feel a connection to any of the other members of the group.

>.> So now because of that, even if I FOUND people to be part of a real life writer's group, I'd be very, very picky about how it was done and I would absolutely want to co-lead it with someone I actually KNEW for a long time.

So based on THAT experience, I want friendly people who are around the same age group, aren't too "advanced," (i.e. on the verge of being published, because then they just- and this is based on a member that I never actually met because he couldn't come to the meetings in my town- show off their knowledge and make you look bad) write the same genre (or at least similar genre), are willing to meet where it's most convenient, are willing to utilize the internet as necessary, aren't going to be super harsh with criticism, and just...yeah.

I've had better luck with online writing groups that I've started.

I was a member of another writing group that used to (or maybe it still does, I don't know) meet at my town's library, too. It was made up of way older people, making me the youngest. I mainly stopped going to the meetings because of my car being totaled and getting busy, but also because it was hard to "connect" with them, because they were so much older (like...45+) and they didn't really write fantasy like I did. I think I was really the only one who wrote fantasy.

One of these days I'll have a job where I have a reliable schedule and have weekends off, and maybe I'll be able to try and get a group started, or join one. The only thing I'm iffy on is the fact that leading a writing group online is different from doing it in person, and i wouldn't want to try and do it on my own, so I'd need to find someone willing to co-lead.

tl;dr I had bad experiences with the two groups I was part of. :| They weren't bad enough to make me not ever want to join one again, though, if I can find a group that I can connect to.
May. 21st, 2012 05:04 pm (UTC)
Thank you for taking the time to write such an in-depth and interesting answer. I really appreciate it, Ally :)

May. 21st, 2012 11:56 pm (UTC)
You're welcome. I wish my experiences had been better, but hopefully I can finally find a group that I'll fit in with.

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



Books by my writer friends - compressed

NJ Writing groups - compressed

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