Real-life Writing groups.

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Thread: Real-life Writing groups.

  1. #1
    Member Stormcat's Avatar
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    Real-life Writing groups.

    So, do any of you meet other local writers and meet up to discuss your projects? What do you do in them? What do you like or dislike?

    I sort of inherited a writing group I wasn't good at managing, and I'm hoping to merge it with a friends writing group so it works better for everyone. She has dedicated writing sessions in addition to critique sessions, those writing sessions have been some of my most productive ever!
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  2. #2
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  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Stormcat View Post
    So, do any of you meet other local writers and meet up to discuss your projects? What do you do in them? What do you like or dislike?

    I sort of inherited a writing group I wasn't good at managing, and I'm hoping to merge it with a friends writing group so it works better for everyone. She has dedicated writing sessions in addition to critique sessions, those writing sessions have been some of my most productive ever!

    Yes, I attend a variety of such groups. I am gradually whittling it down to the ones I find most useful.
    I hope this doesn't come across as arrogant, but I feel that I outgrew a couple of them quite quickly. Unfortunately, one of those is the one closest to me - within walking distance. I became a bit disgruntled because people were repeatedly sidetracked by discussing the subject of the writing in preference to the writing itself. I did put it to the group that the coffee and chat afterwards would be a better place to do this. It can be hard work regularly interjecting and trying to steer the subject back to the nuances (or not!) of the writing. Eventually, I realised I was weeing into the wind so I go there far less frequently now. At least I tried.

    This caused me to look around and travel more. Each group seems to be a very different flavour. My favourite, of course, is the farthest away - a sixty mile round trip. At least it's mostly on main roads. That one seems to have a good mix of guest speakers, open mic sessions, and half-time coffee with delicious home-made cake. There is always a brief writing exercise or two. This part is good for me because although I can turn out reasonable work when I edit, writing on-the-fly is something that I need to work on more.

    Yet another one has far more formal poetry critique where group members take turns to read their poetry on pre-determined subjects. Two poems per monthly meeting is the norm (one from each of two poets).

    There is a certain amount of socialising, of course. My preference is that reading and writing time isn't reduced because of this.

    It can be a bit tricky if people pair off for a fling as personalities can get in the way and it's not unknown for someone to stop going to a group when a relationship doesn't work out. I'm not interested in taking sides and all the stuff that can go with it - though I must admit a couple of women have taken my fancy even though I've never acted on it.

    Group entry prices vary from free up to 5 for a session. However, the 5 one is only 3 per session if you pay a 20 annual membership. There are other benefits to being a member and that 20 more than pays for itself over the year. I've resisted the temptation to only go to the ones with the prettiest women

  4. #4
    I've been going to one regularly one a fortnight and it's ideal for me and gives me something to look forward to as it fits my schedule. I think I'm the youngest there but nice to be in a mixed group with different styles. I enjoy listening to the other stories and poems. And once in a while, we collect what we've written and self publish it as an anthology.

    Each one is different. We talk about various things like grammar and competitions, but the main thing is the reading.
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  5. #5
    I used to attend a fantasy/sci-fi writer's group that I found through Meet-Up. I thought it was helpful for several reasons:

    1) It definitely helped me develop a thicker skin as a writer and be more open to criticism, as IRL critiques are (at least to me) much more daunting than those over the internet. Like in creative writing classes, our group didn't allow the author we were workshopping to speak until each reader gave his/her critique, so, if you were in the hot seat, you were really put on the spot. It was extremely intimidating the first time, but after the initial hurdle, I did find it helpful to give each reader my full, undivided attention and let each speak his/her mind without reproach. There were times when I thought some members got a little harsh in their criticisms (although, never directed at my work, fortunately), especially to less-experienced writers, so that made me a little uncomfortable. In the long run, I took several of my group's suggestions and I think my story is much better because of it.

    2) I think that a real life writer's group, even more so than something similar online, really holds one accountable. If you promise your group you will have a new chapter to workshop in a month, you sure as hell better have a new chapter to workshop in a month or the whole meeting will be pointless. I know I tend to procrastinate a lot and I don't spend nearly as much time as I should writing, so having a deadline and people who expected something really helped.

    Anyway, we unfortunately don't meet anymore as people's schedules don't really line up.

  6. #6
    Member dither's Avatar
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    I like the sound of this. Would love the chance to sit in on one of these things but not as a member.
    If i post a comment on a "WIP", LOOK! I'm a reader that's all, and i can only tell how i feel, as a READER, giving/offering feedback. Hoping to learn and grow here. So please, tell me where i'm going wrong.

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  7. #7
    I've been to a few in-person writing groups. They all reminded me a little of this movie:

    What I found interesting about each tho, was their format.
    Some groups take turns reading their material aloud.
    Some groups talk about how to write.
    Some groups are sheer posery masquerading as writing.

    It's hard to find a good group.

  8. #8
    What do you all look for in a good group?

    I attended two different groups and the first one was more of just a hang out group. They'd talk about writing a little bit, but spent most of the time just talking about different topics. The second one was hesitant to actual critique, they'd just rather read people's work and say it was good.

  9. #9
    the current format of the group I mostly hang out with:
    • Pieces (ideally double-spaced and with line numbers) are submitted to a group Dropbox in PDF or RTF format with a deadline of the Friday before (the group leader sends out an email to group members saying which works are in the queue to verify that everyone knows).
    • Generally works are a short story or a chapter from a longer work (with a synopsis so newcomers have context)
    • Attendees are expected to print out and mark up the works in the queue
    • At the meeting, an order for the works is determined
    • For each work:
      • each attendee other than the author has the opporutunity to make general comments about the work overall, possibly referring to specific places in the work (since each attendee has a copy).
      • After all the other attendees have their turns, the author gets to respond (sometimes if there are few works or attendees, the author can respond to individuals)
      • The author collects the marked up copies.
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  10. #10
    I wanna be in the same writing group as Kaley Cuoco.

    I'm partial to online groups.
    The anonymity seems to yield better feedback.
    Also, you can reach bigger groups. It's hard to detach yourself from a live group once it's gone bad.
    The downside of online groups is if you piss someone off, they sometimes go and torch your books with bad reviews.

    Also, with online groups, you can attend meetings while wearing nothing more than bunny slippers, boxers, and a jar of Vaseline.


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