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The other week, I posted something about why I thought a good writing group was a boon for any writer. Some of the folks who commented mentioned how hard it is to find one, which in turn led to comments from people like my friend, mtlawson, who went on to post his own entry about how it would be great to have some sort of searchable database.

The trouble is: How would one possibly create and maintain such a monster?

I think I have the answer. Using a combination of national/state-based Yahoo groups, moderated and updated by writers within those countries/states, and a central website to act as an online signpost (as well as a place where writers share their knowledge and experience) we can set up a free to join, free to use network of links which would enable people to find and/or set up writing groups anywhere in the world.

Here’s how it works:

Let’s say you live in Monmouth County, New Jersey, USA and you’re looking to join a creative writing group. Your Google search takes you to FindAWritingGroup.com (FAWG for short). From there, you’d follow the link to the relevant Yahoo Group, in this case, FindAWritingGroupinNewJersey. Once you join, you’ll find links to writing groups throughout New Jersey. What's more, you get to connect with other writers in your own country/state.

Who will join/run these groups?

Other writers, just like you and me. They join the FAWG network to find a local writing group, promote or start up their own (be it a statewide organization, like the GSHW in New Jersey, or a small meeting at a local Barnes & Noble), or just to connect online with other writers in their country/state.

Why would they stay?

Aside from the obvious networking benefits, I hope to make FAWG.com a useful writing website. It comes with a blog (I’ve called it Write Around the World).

As well as copying my weekly selection of interesting posts on there, I hope to persuade some of my writer/agent/editor friends to guest post on a regular basis.

Why would someone set up/moderate a FAWG Yahoo group?

I’ll add a brief bio of everyone who sets up and/or moderates a FAWG Yahoo group to the FIND A WRITING GROUP page on the main FAWG website, along with a link to their blog and website. As the FAWG network grows, those people should see a significant increase in traffic.

Is it hard to set up a Yahoo Group?

It’s a straightforward process. I’ve even provided a cut & pastable blurb for the 'Description' section on the Yahoo homepage. Once you’re up and running, there should be little maintenance needed (I’ve run two Yahoo groups for over a year now, and aside from the occasional spam message, I’ve had no problems). Of course, from a networking point of view, you may want to start and/or get involved in some of the writing discussions that take place, but that’s entirely up to you.

I’m interested in helping. What do I do now?

Please spread the word. Also, if there isn't already a FAWG Yahoo group for your country or state, consider setting one up by following the instructions on the Set up a FAWG Group page on the website.

There’s no reason why several people can’t moderate a national/state group together, so if you want to get someone to help you, that’s fine with me – though I’m going to limit things to three bio/links on the website per Yahoo Group for the moment.

I plan to officially launch the network sometime near the end of January, so there’s plenty of time to iron out any wrinkles in the system before we get things going. In the meantime, any suggestions or opinions are, as always, most welcome.



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Comments

( 26 comments — Leave a comment )
lmurph524
Dec. 17th, 2009 05:25 pm (UTC)
meetup.com does this as well.
jongibbs
Dec. 17th, 2009 05:46 pm (UTC)
Thanks. I'll look into that :)
jongibbs
Dec. 17th, 2009 07:06 pm (UTC)
I had a quick look. They seem to be more of a general noticeboard kind of a site, rather than a specialized interest one.
dendrophilous
Dec. 18th, 2009 02:30 am (UTC)
Yes, they collect any kind of group, including writing groups. They also collect fees from the group owners.
jongibbs
Dec. 18th, 2009 12:20 pm (UTC)
'They also collect fees from the group owners.'

I'm happy to say that Yahoo groups cost nothing to set up or run (which is why I use them).
dendrophilous
Dec. 18th, 2009 02:11 pm (UTC)
That's why my writing grouped switched to Yahoo once our free Meetup time ran out.

I'm looking forward to this new website. Looks like a good way for people to connect.
jongibbs
Dec. 18th, 2009 04:07 pm (UTC)
Thanks, I hope it will be :)
bogwitch64
Dec. 17th, 2009 05:49 pm (UTC)
Wow--that is a BIG endeavor! Cool!
jongibbs
Dec. 17th, 2009 06:01 pm (UTC)
Lol, I've done most of the groundwork already. If it takes off it'll be worth the effort. I'm hoping the guest posts will be mostly cutting and pasting, and I already do my links list, so it should be okay.
mtlawson
Dec. 17th, 2009 06:54 pm (UTC)
That might work. It's a little more decentralized than what I was thinking of, which was essentially mimicking the database used for boardgames at boardgamegeek.com for writers groups. However, as long as the majority of the work is done by the groups that want to stand up and be counted, this could do the trick without driving you bananas.

You can also link to other potential sources of information, such as local bookstores, libraries and coffeehouses.
jongibbs
Dec. 17th, 2009 07:04 pm (UTC)
'...could do the trick without driving you bananas'

Lol, that was a major concern :)

I'm thinking that lots of folks in lots of Yahoo groups will keep their links up to date better than any one centralized place (including, as you say, local bookstores/libraries etc.

Care to set up the FAWG group for Ohio?

mtlawson
Dec. 18th, 2009 04:29 am (UTC)
I figure it'll end up being either me or Missy (mela_lyn).

How do you want the Yahoo group to work? Have people petition to put their group in like a public billboard?
jongibbs
Dec. 18th, 2009 12:35 pm (UTC)
'I figure it'll end up being either me or Missy (mela_lyn).'

Thanks. Why not both of you? It's easy to upgrade a member to moderator status and I'll be glad to promote up to three site/blog links & moderator bios on the FAWG website for each Yahoo group.

'How do you want the Yahoo group to work?'

This will work best if membership isn't approved first and if writers can add their own links to the folders created in the 'Links' section (I recommend one folder for each county). They need to mention the town and meeting location, along with either a link to a website, or some kind of contact email address so folks have a place to go to find out more info before going to a meeting if they so choose.

The moderators really won't have much to do except to intercept the occasional spam and perhaps step in to remind people to keep the posts writing-related every now and then. that said, I would hope they use the group to chat about writing and local events etc.

Right now, I'm looking to set up the basic infrastructure, with a few Yahoo groups linked to the site so people can see how it works. I'll do a more detailed 'user guide' for how to add links etc over the next week or so and put it up on the main site.

I hope that's answered your questions. If not, feel free to let me know.

Thanks again for your help. I appreciate it :)

cloudscudding
Dec. 17th, 2009 06:57 pm (UTC)
Writer's Market is setting up a database like this too.
jongibbs
Dec. 17th, 2009 07:11 pm (UTC)
I think there's is a central list, rather than a network of little 'communities' though.

From a self-promotional point of view, I think FAWG could be good for everyone involved.
(Deleted comment)
jongibbs
Dec. 17th, 2009 09:41 pm (UTC)
Lol, I'm sure there are other writers in Germany :)

The website is the central hub with good stuff for writers (I hope) and links to national/state Yahoo groups.

It's the Yahoo groups which will have all the writing group info, whether they be national organizations or just a bunch of guys (and gals) getting together at the local B&N.

Not only that, I'm thinking they're a good way to find out about conferences/events and simply mingle online with people from your own country.

That's the plan anyway, whether it works out that way remains to be seen :)
(Deleted comment)
jongibbs
Dec. 18th, 2009 12:14 am (UTC)
I'm not too familiar with how Yahoo works, but I assumed the Yahoo group for (say) Germany would be in the German language. Is that not possible?
(Deleted comment)
jongibbs
Dec. 18th, 2009 12:52 pm (UTC)
'Maybe it would work if the Yahoo group itself is the main entry point (getting the word about the group out there, actively inviting people to join etc.)'

I agree 100%

For any FAWG member, I would hope the biggest benefit comes from joining the FAWG Yahoo group in his/her country. The main website and blog is just icing on the cake.

At first, I imagine most new FAWG group members in English-speaking countries will come through word-of-mouth via the main website, but for you, where the FAWG group would be in the German language, I would think a lot more will come direct from German language sites/blogs and other online sources (though I'm sure plenty of other English-speaking writers, like yourself, live there too) without ever visiting the central web-site.

It's true that many of those folks won't speak English, and therefore won't be interested in visiting FindAWritingGroup.com or it's blog, but that's not a problem. They'd still have the benefit of an online community for German writers, with links and information about local writing groups, local events and discussion about writing with their fellow countrymen and women.

How about it? Care to start a German language FAWG Yahoo group?
peadarog
Dec. 17th, 2009 09:20 pm (UTC)
Good luck with this!
jongibbs
Dec. 17th, 2009 09:42 pm (UTC)
Thanks. In theory, I think it'll work, but it's not really down to me now. Either folks'll take to the idea, or they won't :)
tracy_d74
Dec. 18th, 2009 12:55 am (UTC)
When do you sleep?

This sounds great! I will do what I can to spread the word . . . when the time comes.
jongibbs
Dec. 18th, 2009 12:56 pm (UTC)
Thanks. I appreciate any help people can give me :)

If you can start spreading the word now, I'd appreciate it. I'd like to have as many FAWG Yahoo groups in place as possible before the big push at the end of January.
worldmaker_13
Dec. 18th, 2009 05:33 pm (UTC)
I think that is a great idea!! Can't wait to see what happens :-D
jongibbs
Dec. 18th, 2009 06:07 pm (UTC)
Thanks, I'm keen to find out my own self :)
out_totheblack
Dec. 22nd, 2009 12:47 am (UTC)
Well, I've checked and I'm not surprised to find that there are no creative writing groups in my fair city.
jongibbs
Dec. 22nd, 2009 10:45 am (UTC)
I'm sure there are plenty of writers there, many of whom either belong to, or would like to belong to a group. It's just aquestion of finding them, which is where FAWG can hopefully help :)
( 26 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

NJ Writing groups - compressed

NJ writing conference - compressed

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