Thoughts on Finding a Good Writer's Group?

I feel ready to join a writer's group. I know my work could stand some critique (from someone other than my wife) and I need to interact with people more than I do. What experience do people have with writer's groups? Would you recommend an online group or one that meets in person? How do you find the right group? And does anyone have a group they would specifically recommend? Thanks for any thoughts. (And just by the way, hi everybody. Sorry to be absent so long. I have been writing but have also been swamped with other things.)

Hello. I might be a newbie, but I am in a writing(and illustration) groups in person and online. I am also trying to get into a writing guild(children's books is focus, but accepts all), but that's another thing. I recommend having both worlds. First, find a local group near you. You can check out Meetup to find local groups around you. A guest writer come to our group through this means as she was in town and curious and joined our online places to keep in touch. You might have to go to a few meetings and groups before you you find the right group. But, once you do, they will give you the critics you need without tearing you apart like you see in a lot of places like DeviantArt(art version). Even if your piece sucks, a good writer group will tell you straight forward way, but will tell you why and help you make it better and you will come out better. Then, maybe expand online and if you have friends(best other writers) ask them if they know of any online writing groups or make your own like some of illustrators taking SVS's Creative Composition class did to keep in touch and get good critics after the six week class was done.

Definitely shop around to find the right group for you. Places to check are libraries, bookstores, and any writing centres in your area (here in Australia, each state has a Writers Centre that is a great resource for this type of thing). I definitely recommend a face-to-face one if you can get it, though there's nothing wrong with online too.

When I first moved to Oz, I couldn't find the type of writing group I was looking for in my local area, so I started my own. Six years later, it's still going strong. I wrote a guest post for a friend's blog on how to do it: (It's not as hard as you think.)

It's also worth hopping on the NaNoWriMo website and seeing if there's a region that covers your area ( If there is, you'll have one or more MLs (Municipal Liaisons - organisers of local events and shenanigans). Get in touch with an ML for your area; they may know of some writing groups in your area, and there's been a lot of chatter on the ML forums in the past couple of years about starting year-round events/groups, so they might even run one! (I'm an ML for my area. I <3 my local writing community.)

Hope that helps. Good luck!

To add to the above:

I am in 2 online writer groups. One of them meets on teamspeak on saturdays, the other works with google docs and without fixed meeting times, just whenever someone can spare the time to post comments.

The best place to look for writer groups are writer communities online... like this one! :)

Finding a real life one never was an option for me, I honestly prefer online. Why? Simply because it saves time and is more convenient - I like to receive comments in an already written form so I can look them over again weeks later without forgetting anything, and it's always very clear without lengthy discussions which section of my sample a specific comment is aimed at.

Besides, if I wanted to join a real life group, I'd probably spend 90ish minutes travelling there, 90 minutes back, and the group meeting itself would take 2-3 hours. That's a few hours I could actually spend on writing, instead. I'm in a job education 8 hours a day on weekdays + 3 hours travelling there and back. When I get home, I spend 20-30 hours a week on writing. Time is a huge factor for me.

Thank you everybody who shared their thoughts. Kess, I will definitely check out your blog post because I am thinking of just starting my own group. But I'm going to check out a couple of local groups (Oakland/SF Bay Area) and see what they're like. Again, thank you.

Been away a week, sorry for late response.

I was part of a writer's group via. the Canadian Author's Association. It was easy to join & setup, and the only real requirement was the annual membership cost and a willingness to play along.

The more organized the group is, the better. I think my group suffered because they had gotten to know one another before I came along, and they'd fallen into habits, many bad. Too much conversation, not enough focus on the work. Above all, they were too ~nice~.

It was frustrating because every critique went, basically, "I really liked this. It was soooo good. I liked the characters, concept, etc. I didn't like this eensy weensy thing, but I really liked X, Y, and this quirky little line here."

I went to the group to get advice & feedback on early Worm chapters, and I couldn't get any meaningful stuff to use to improve my craft.

Ultimately I left when the group shrunk to 3 people (from as many as 11 at the peak). Car accident, several babies, moving, etc. We didn't get new blood and one of the only three people left hadn't written anything in eight years. Yeah.

I do plan to find/start another group, but only after I move, and I now know what to look for.

I don't know how I didn't notice this before. This is right up my alley. I'm enjoying the online group I'm part of. Meeting in person would be a bit too difficult, and I'm not sure anyone local would much care for my stuff. I am in an online one that meets on Google Docs called the Writer's Lair. It's made up of old Worm readers. We started with a bunch more people and have been diminished somewhat, but we're looking for more people. As Chrysalis said, we don't meet at any fixed time. We just show up, read over each other's stuff when we have time, and leave comments. It's been handy, helping with typos and such.

I doubt we're like Wildbow's bunch as far as being too nice, nor do we have all that many comments directed at conversation as opposed to editing. I wouldn't say we're the most organized, though.

If anyone wants to give the Writer's Lair a try, drop me an email at [email protected]

Yep, Psycho Gecko's group rocks. I specifically asked them to be nitpicky and mean with my samples, and it's working out great. Strongly recommended!

I lucked out with the in person group I go to. They are the right mix of polite and "will tear your work to shreds." They will give you straight in your face the issues they see in your work, but do in a polite about it to where it does not feel like your bring ripped apart. That and also how you might be able to fix it which is worth more than just what I got in art college(why did they always plan most of the critiques in the morning? Noone is awake then to do it). Same with the online illustration group I am in. Though, sending you an email Pyscho Gecko as I would actually like some web serial people look at my stuff as well.

It would be cool to have more people in the group. Just make sure you have the time to give feedback to everyone who looked over your stuff, in turn. The samples everyone posts are fairly long, and it's easy to underestimate the time required to criticize 3-4 people's work once per week.

No problem. I do three(or two pieces if I have one of mine up) every Sunday-Monday for Monday critique(my in-person group meets every Monday). Though since I still getting better at writing critiques(more geared to art critiques), everyone else usually says what I was going to say. However, upside of Google Docs is you can add comments to other people's comments, so I can add if someone already said something I want to say.

My main username I use a lot of places, The leaking pen, is actually the name of an online writers group I ran back in the 90's, (can't prove it, but I'm pretty sure Twilight was spawned on our pages. I'm not proud of that, but trust me, if I'm right, it could have been MUCH WORSE!) and people came and went. Right now the closest thing I have to a writers group is a small group centered around a particular author and their fiction, but we have a bit of cross fertilization of non that realm stuff as well. I'm starting to get into writing shorts more, and want to relaunch my own serials though, so I probably should start cultivating another group again.