Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Tips for Finding the Right Writers Group for You

by Beth Ann Farley

Tips for finding the right writers group
Writers need writers! We need to share our ideas over our hot cup of coffee or tea. What do we do when we do not have the help and support of other writers? Where can we find a good writers group?

When I moved, I had to leave my old writers group. It was difficult for me because I trusted them with my poorly written articles. I could trust them to be gentle with me as I was with them.

We not only drooled over each others’ words, but we shared personal journeys as well. We became a writing family.

A writers group is so much more than sharing ideas and critiquing each other’s work. A close writers group is where a writer and author can engage in honest critical feedback. A writers group is a source of support and encouragement. Every writer knows that in the beginning of his or her writing journey, there are more rejections than acceptances. We need like-minded people to hold us up when we have been rejected over and over, as well as, rejoice with us when we’ve sold an article or even signed a book contract.

I lack this connection. I lack the help of other writers, but more importantly, I miss the support and friendship of other writers. When we join forces with other writers, we talk a language that no one else can understand. We talk plots, stories, punctuation, spelling, grammar, characters, rhymes, publishers, editors and research.

Will any 'ole group do?
Should we join any 'ole writers group?
Should we be picky?
 Are all writers groups the same?

I began the hunt for my perfect group. Being so new to this very small town, I searched and searched until I finally found one. It was a mixed age of female writers who meet right at the library in town and the time slot was perfect. 

However, when I went to the first meeting, I found out that I had to apply on line and submit some writing samples. They would vote as a group if I was to be accepted or not. There were annual dues to pay as well. Because I was desperate, I followed their instructions. I hurried home, submitted two of my previously published articles,  only to have a rejection in my “in” box the next day. I was not accepted into their group. I was crushed.

This experience made me take a step back and really think about what I was looking for in a writers group. Did I just want a group of warm bodies or did I want more than that?

Ideas for when looking for a writers group.
How can we find a writers group that’s going to meet our needs? While continuing my search of that perfect writers group, I spent some time pondering what I needed and wanted. Here are some of my ideas:
  • If you are a mystery writer, joining a research writers group is not a fit.
  • If you are a non-fiction writer, joining a romance writers group is not a fit.
  • If you are a poetry writer, a science fiction writers group would not work.
  • Do you want to pay dues? Some groups charge.
  • Do you want to be interviewed to join? Some have a certain criteria in order to join.
  • Do you want men and women present?
  • Do you want to be with young or old writers or a variety of age?

I was so excited to be with warm bodies that I thought they shared the same drive to write. I was wrong. You see, I have been commissioned to write to encourage people. This group was a local, liberal, female, historical writers group. I am sure they are a wonderful group of ladies and have written some fabulous material; but the door was shut and not only shut by them but by God as well.

So, I got to thinking, maybe I should start my own group?

When a writers group does not fit and you are tired of searching,  have you considered starting your own group?

Where would you begin? Here again are some of my tips to consider.
  • Try to advertise. Put flyers around town or a short ad in the local paper. You also, can post on social media including Craig’s List. Maybe you can put up flyers at your church if you want a Christian writers group?
  • Where to meet? Why not at a local coffee shop? Local coffee shops love your business and are usually pretty open to having your group use their facility. Maybe you can try your church? I’ve worked in a library for years that hosted writers groups, so why not contact your local public library?
  • Goals: Don’t forget to write the goals of the group you want to start. My perfect group would  consist of Christian and or spiritual authors that would want to meet one day a week for an hour or two. In my perfect group,  I would not charge any dues but would set guidelines. My guidelines would be simple. Do not steal the ideas of other members and be kind in criticizing.

Right now, I continue to write from my little counter-top and continue to search for writers groups. I am praying about starting my own as well. I am not sure of the direction I will go, but one thing I do know, the local, liberal warm body group was not a fit for me.

How about you? Do you belong to a writers group? If so, did you have any expectations?

Have you ever started a writers group? If so, how did you get it jump started? Be sure to leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

NOTE: Click to Tweet is being glitchy. You can just copy and paste the updates into Hootsuite or directly into social media. 

Beth Ann Farley lives in Brunswick, Maine.  She has written for www.bookfun.org.,Toot n’ Town USA, Landline, Teachers in Focus, Horse & Roider, Mature Years, and Indian Life Magazines. She has also had her Sunday School Material published by Standard Publishing as well as Wesleyan Publishing. Her poetry has been featured in Sweet Freedom written by Jennifer Slattery. She has been a guest blogger on thewriteconversation@blogspot.com by Edie Melson and Poppy Smith’s Inspiring Women to Thrive blog. Beth is a co-host on Living by Grace, a Facebook Community as well as Taking it to the Streets, a homeless shelter in Omaha, NE.

Beth enjoys reading, writing in her journal, swimming, walking her little peek-a-poo named Peek-a-Chew and engaging in Women’s groups with a good cup of coffee. She has a huge compassion for the elderly and spends time with them when possible.


  1. I found my first group online. From there, after about a year, a half dozen of us separated from the main group to form our own. We've now been together for nearly 12 years. :) I prefer online because we can get our work critiqued faster that a group that meets in person. I have one of those but it's more for fellowship.

  2. Thanks Ane, I hope a lot of people input to your post. The only group I ever belonged to was in the Panama Canal Zone back in the 70's and I loved it. Have been considering trying to put one together where I live. I did find out that a writer's group and a critique group are not the same thing. I did find a good online critique group called Critique Circle, it is free but has options that cost if you are into them. My other thing besides writing is crafts and I found that when there is an membership form, it is just a way of screening to fit somebody's idea of what they want "their" group to be. I have also noticed it usually involves money, but there are plenty of outlets if we keep looking. As for me I joined the American Gourd Society and the Indiana Gourd Society and now attend several events every year and have met many really nice like minded people. Basically my writing fix comes once a year at the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writer's Conference which has connected me with a couple of groups. The friendships may be slower to develop, but they come from a common bond and that is important. Which is more important that it is a faith based group or a writing group. I guess that depends on what we are looking for. My writing is strictly for blogging and sharing what I have learned from crafts and following my faith. My writing goal is to encourage others to pursue their goals. Sorry about the long answer, but I hope you get a lot of replies it could start a whole new blog.

    1. Hey Ric 'The Turtle' Ryan, thanks for the input. Looking forward to getting more people involved in starting a group of our own. Onward and Upward.

  3. Beth Ann I live in RI. We have a group that meets 1x per month. I am also looking for a few writers to do an online and/or face to face group. Just a few ladies who will pray for each other and hold each other accountable in love. If this interests you contact me at godsfruit@juno.com We could do online/phone and meet up. I will be praying for you.

    1. I would love this Cherrilynn. I would prefer online rather than phone. I have started a group of three. We will meet on Monday for the first time. Thanks. I have taken down your email. I'll shoot you an email. Beth

  4. Beth, I need you to move to Manton! This town is so small it doesn't have a traffic light, much less a gas station. We're a good 30 miles from a major town. There are no writer's groups here, unless I want to write about the local Grange, the school, the church, or the quilters' group. But I write fiction and I want other fiction writers to hang out with. Out of necessity, I had to focus my search online and I'm still having a hard time. I used to belong to a critique group of six ladies. Over the span of about six years, we shared our writing and our lives. We prayed and encouraged one another. Then life got in the way and the group pretty much dissolved. I miss the comradery I had with these ladies and have been hard-pressed to find something similar. I'm still looking and I won't give up.

  5. Thank you all for your kind words and encouragement. Linda, I once lived in a town of only1200 people without a stop light. I get it! Don't give up. Start one. Try your church, post some posters. God's got just the right group for you.