When we writers spend hours alone at the keyboard, that isolation can get to even us introverts.
The solution is to find a writers group—populated by like-minded fellow strugglers.
I belong to three—one that meets in person and two that interact online, and I encourage Jerry Jenkins Writers Guild members to find one or form their own.
If you’re serious about your writing dreams, a writers group can help you fulfill them.
Writers understand each other.
You can look to family and friends for support, but unless they’re writers, they’re not likely to really comprehend what you’re going through.
You want someone who’s been where you are.
Whatever your challenge, someone in your writers group has experienced the same and gained insight they’re happy to share.
Late motivational speaker Jim Rohn said we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.
That’s why I enjoy spending time with writers.
Before Joining a Writers Group
Know what you hope to gain from it.
A writers group should help you become a better craftsperson, not serve only as a cheerleading squad for you. And neither should it be the opposite—a gaggle of critics that leaves you feeling low after every meeting.
Rather, seek (or form) a group that includes at least one member who has succeeded in the business. Ideally, the leader should be someone who has published two or more books, has an agent, and knows how to work with editors at publishing houses.
Most important, be sure the leader allows both praise and constructive criticism. Otherwise you could wind up in a writers group where everyone praises everyone else’s work, yet no one gets published. Or one in which everyone criticizes each other’s writing but no one learns how to improve.
Guidelines for Joining a Writers Group
Choose as specific a writers group as possible. Some have writers of all sorts who write in a variety of genres—fiction, nonfiction, children’s, sci-fi, fantasy, memoir, you name it.
That isn’t all bad, but such assemblages tend to discuss what applies to all—the business side of things, like agents, contracts, promotion. If you’re looking to specifically improve your writing, look for a writers group made up of others in your genre.
How to Find a Writers Group
Finding an online writers group is as easy as publicizing your interest. Google or announce in social media your desire to interact with other writers in your genre.
In-person groups offer more dynamic interaction, but you may find online groups easier to form by genre.
For in-person writers groups, check:
- Your library
- Your community center
- Word Weavers International (designed for Christian writers)
For online writers groups, check:
- Facebook (search “writers group” and remember—the more specific, the better)
- The Jerry Jenkins Writers Guild
If you can’t find a writers group that seems the right fit, consider starting one. Word Weavers offers a great model.
Even if you don’t live near other writers (don’t assume that till you’ve sought others in your area online), you could meet using video conferencing tools like Zoom and sharing manuscripts through email or via collaboration tools like Google Docs.
The #1 thing to remember when searching for a writers group:
You’re not alone. And you have plenty of options to find out who’s out there with you and for you.
The right writers group can help improve your craft, motivate you, and give you confidence. Finding one is worth the search.