Monday, August 03, 2009

Starting a writer's group? - Payne

Have you ever thought about joining a writer’s group? How about starting
your own group? There are many different ways to do so; as varied as the
writers who'll join the group.

Let’s start with the basic questions; how often and where do you meet? Writers from Inscribe Christian Writer’s Fellowship share with us:

Laurie says, “We meet the second Tuesday evening of each month except for December when we sometimes meet the first Tuesday if the second one is too close to Christmas. In previous years we have met for July and August but this year the concensus was to have a break. We meet in a room in Martha's apartment block as she has no means of transportation. Prior to her living there we moved from place to place. We start at 7 p.m. although we may wait a few minutes for stragglers. We finish about 9.30 depending on how many are there.”

Val Coulman’s group also meets in-person at someone's home but they rotate. She tells us, “We share the hosting responsibilities. It's usually Saturday morning once a month for a couple hours.”

Like Laurie, Ken Kilback’s group meets in the same place each month. He shares, “Our in-person critique group meets once per month in my home. Since this group meets under the SCBWI umbrella, it's best to keep it at the same location, especially for new people or occasional drop-ins. We typically meet on the second Saturday of each month (or third if there's a long weekend to avoid) from 1:30 to 4:00 pm.”

Is it a good idea to host the meeting at a different location other than writer’s home? Ken doesn’t think so. “A long time ago we used to meet in a restaurant, but in the end it was too noisy and difficult to critique manuscripts. We tried meeting in a private room in a library as well, but the problem with that was that we couldn't reserve the room more than a few weeks ahead of the time so it wasn't great for promoting the meetings far in advance.”

Joanna Mallory agrees that it’s nice to stay in the home but there are pros and cons to it. She says, “We meet in different homes, trying to spread it around so nobody has to always drive long distances. When our group started we met in a church meeting room and were almost structured to death. We had minutes, officers and everything. Yuck. But I will say that meeting around a table brought an air of professionalism and/or focus. I wish we could go back to that without the formality. Meeting in homes, we always seem to wait for the stragglers, then spend too much time chattering. When we do get down to focus we have a good meeting. It's just harder to do in soft armchairs. We meet once a month except December, and often take July and/or August off. This year we skipped July and are having an August barbecue.”

Meeting once a month for a few hours in the homes of each writer appears to be the preferred method for each group. My own writer’s group, the Writer’s Crucible, meet the third Tuesday of the month and rotate to each member’s home. We open with a prayer and the leader then reads a writing-related article. We share any publishing news, markets and questions we have. A short writing exercise follows. We then critique our work that has been emailed to all members in advance of our meeting. We serve refreshments during critiquing and close in prayer.

Thinking of starting your own writer’s group? Start with the basics: give thought to how often and where to meet.


Eleanor Shepherd said...

Hi Kimberley,
We are trying to reactivate a group in Montreal, so your blog is really timely. Thanks so much. I will keep you posted on how we do.

Peter Black said...

Hello Kimberley,
Your providing this little forum on writers' groups was a neat idea.
Although I'm not a member of one at present, it may be something I could accommodate 'down the road'.
Lord bless,

Kimberley Payne said...

Hi Eleanor,

I'm glad that my blog was timely! I look forward to hear how your new group does.

And Peter, I hightly recommend connecting with (or starting) a writer's group. It's a wonderful support!~


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