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Before the days of Twitter and FaceTime, people had to actually congregate in public settings. Take a look at the ex-pat writers of 1920’s Paris: Hemingway, Pound, Fitzgerald. And the Inklings of 1930’s Oxford: Tolkien and Lewis. Clearly, something magical occurs when like-minded creative beings come together: encouragement, influence, and eventually, success.
It may have never occurred to you to start a writing group, assuming there is not one already available to join. Before you go and assume that there are no writers in your area, and therefore no one to make up a writing group, rest assured, there are writers everywhere. I live in a small, rural village in Southern Germany, and I was able to scrap up enough Americans to start a group. If I can do it, you can too.
How: Facebook is a great resource to find people. That is where we all exist now, isn’t it? Check the local groups and put the word out. Chances are you’ll get a few bites. Twitter and other public forums such as Critique Circle and NaNoWriMo are equally as helpful when finding locals.
What: The first thing I ask every member of our group is “What can this group do for you?” There really aren’t any rules about writing groups. What you do is up to the members. Some may choose to write during the meetings; some don’t. In our group, we choose a topic for each get-together, and barely stick to it. We let the conversation take us wherever it chooses to. But at the end of the day, I make sure we’re fulfilling the needs each member.
When: We meet once a month and chat online throughout the week. We hold word sprints and share helpful resources. Building the community, even with those hesitant to show their face in public is important to the success of the group.
Where: Again, unless you live in the remote caves of Turkey (and even then, maybe), you probably have enough people around you to form a group. Even if it’s you and one other warm body, that’s still a group. You won’t know if you don’t try.
Why: What are the benefits of starting a local writing club? Do you really doubt there are benefits? How about motivation, accountability, networking, mentorship, influence, encouragement, just to name a few? Great things happen when great minds come together.
Starting a writing group has been one of the best things I’ve done for my career, and I hope it has had the same effect on our members. We have published writers and writers whose half-finished novels stopped collecting dust. We have every genre, phase and style in our little remote group. We don’t always know what we’re doing, but we’re doing something, and that’s a start.