How to find a writers’ group

One of the key questions to ask is what kind of writers’ group are you looking for? Do you want a supportive, more social group where you can share ideas, do writing exercises and talk about writing? Or do you want a critique group where you give (and get) feedback on your work-in-progress on a regular basis? There are also levels in between these two.

As well, you might want a group that focuses on one kind of writing – children’s books, for instance, or fantasy. Or you might be after a group on the internet. Before you begin searching, it will pay you to sit down and think about what you want and need, and maybe make a short list of criteria. Then you can make decisions about the groups you find, because not all of them are going to suit.

* Decide the level of critiquing you want, and the level of sociability
* Do you want to write in the group? Or only critique?
* Are you happy to have a range of writers of all experience levels, or are you after a group of peers (and what level are you at anyway?)
* Do you want to specialise? A group of picture book writers, if that’s your area, can be a valuable group!

Where to look? In Australia, most state writers’ centres keep lists of local writing groups. You could advertise in their newsletter. Try your nearest library – people who write are usually keen readers. If you attend a writing course and hit it off with the other writers, suggest you start a group. If you have writer friends, spread the word that you’d like to start a group. (Note that some of these suggestions are about you getting it off the ground yourself, because that’s often a good solution, and you get to set the parameters.)

If you are looking online, again check what the group’s focus is, how many members and how often you are expected to put up work for critique. More importantly, how often are you expected to comment on other’s work. In a large group with a weekly commitment, you could be spending hours on other people’s stories or poems. A group of ten is workable. 50 is usually not, unless most of them don’t participate (which is a warning sign).

Ultimately, even if you only find two or three other committed writers to join you (or you join them), this is enough to become something valuable, inspiring and supportive. And it may grow, if you all want it to.

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