Beginning your own writers group can be a bit tricky. There are several questions you must ask yourself at the onset. Each is important in its own way and just as essential as the other. There is no specific order to the questions but they all must be answered before you begin. Below you will find a starting list of the types of questions you must ask yourself. Just the action of reading them will bring to your mind other questions. Answer them. They are important.
After these questions are asked you must think of the guidelines you will use to run your group. Each set of people is different. They expect different things and have different fears. To that end you must do your best to calm or all together alleviate problems before they begin.
For the most part, being a writer is a solitary endeavor. We write in private and hide our manuscripts from sight. The action of joining a writers group is letting go of our insecurities about our writing and ourselves. Writers take a big step forward by visiting a writer’s group and an even bigger one by joining. We must help them come to the conclusion that they made the right decision.
Every group has a different set of people. Some expect to read every time, others bring something once in a great while. You can expect to find at least one soft-spoken person and might have one who does quite a bit of talking. To make the group work and to be fair to everyone, it’s a good idea to see how the group works the first few meetings and if you find that you’re consistently going over time, suggest using a timer for each member. That way you’re not singling anyone out and you’re keeping a schedule.
Some people like rules and are afraid when there is a lack of them. So I’ve found it’s a good idea to draw some up before the first meeting begins. That way when someone expresses a concern you’re ready with the answer.
What follows are some samples that will help y on your way to creating and enjoying your new Writer’s Group. If these tools help than the time I spent one this article are worth it. Good luck and as always, ‘Happy Writing!’
Here are some of the questions, likely they will raise some more.
1. Where: Think about your area’s demographics. What types of people live in your town? Do you have an artsy set? Do you see signs for concerts, a free community movie night or other like events? If you do than, you might be able to host your writers group in your own town. If you don’t see these things you might want to think of a neighboring town that has some of these things. Will you meet in your home or in a public place like Panera or Starbucks? Would your library sponsor you?
2. Type: Do you want to focus on a specific type of writing? Poets work different than screenwriters and fiction writers see the world in yet another light from nonfiction writers who do more research than writing for long periods of time. If you desire a diverse group, consider offering a mix and leave the type open.
3. Advertisement: How do you plan to tell people about your group? Will you go by word of mouth or will you put up posters? Are you social media savvy enough to get people interested in your group and know how to target people you live near you?
4. When: As you plan your event try to think of a day/time that will be convenient for the most people. A little research into events that happen in your town will give you a heads-up on when a reoccurring event happens so that you don’t schedule yours to coincide on the same night and find yourself in constant competition. Weekday, weeknight, weekend, what time of the day will you agree to meet every time? People need something easy to remember so don’t switch it on them. You’ll lose members quickly if you do. How often will you meet? One a week, once a month or every other week?
5. Cost: Decide what you will charge your members or if you will make it free to join. Remember you will be making posters or spending time on the Internet to promote your group. Do you want to be reimbursed or is this your baby and you say, ‘hang the expense!’
6. Name: What will you call your group? When choosing a name you should go for one of two goals. Either you make it catchy and hip so that people remember it or you make it specific to the type of group you are starting.
Below is a sample of what your rules might look like. You can add to them but be sure that the results don’t read like a law book. People need to know you’re there to protect their rights but they don’t want to feel intimidated so that they leave the group either.
Critiquing and meeting manners:
1. Members should be courteous and honest in their critiques – we are here to help each other accomplish our goals. Only through honest answers will we learn and write suitably for publishability.
2.Members should be aware of the time so that everyone gets a fair chance to read/explain their work.
3. Members should always get permission before they take an extra copy of another’s work home with them – some people are not comfortable with their work leaving their hands.
4. Members should never tell someone outside the group about another member’’ work; whether it be an idea in the making or a complete work unless asked to by that member.
5. Members should be aware that anything that is either typed/written down is protected under US Copyright Laws.
When sending emails:
1. We ask that you please refrain from sending junk/interesting story mail – we get enough already from others.
2. Only send messages pertaining to writing, writing events or answers/requests from a fellow member.
3. Please do not share any members email address without prior permission and knowledge to that member.
Below is a sample poster to give you an idea of what might work. Adding an attractive picture gets people’s eyes to stop and read just to see what it is.
Event Name: Nonfiction Writers Group of McHenry County
Time: 6:30 – 8:45 p.m. the 1st Monday of the month
Beginning August 6th
Location: McHenry Public Library
809 N. Front St. (Route 31)
McHenry IL 60050
Contact Information: Your Name
Your email address
Your phone number
Description: Are you a writer? Do you want to publish your nonfiction article or book? The Nonfiction Writers Group of McHenry County is a group of authors seeking other authors who are actively working on pieces, researching topics, and compiling interesting stories on various subjects. Only other nonfiction authors understand what it takes to make a piece captivating yet factually accurate. Join us as we help each other accomplish our goals and succeed in the writing business.