High-five! You survived another week! I mean, I hope you did more than just survive, but step one is definitely to survive it.
Ok, don’t be angry! I got to thinking about last week’s post, and I couldn’t help but realize that maybe people wanted to know more about how to find a writing group. I already posted a blog on creating your own, which you can find here, but I didn’t really say how to find a group. I just kinda said, DO IT. lol
A lot of these tips are also great for finding other groups, not just for writers. I’m talking about carpenter guilds, painters, smelters, jewelry makers, you name it, there’s likely a group for it. If there isn’t a group for it in your area, make one. You might be surprised to find that others in your area are pining after a like-minded group with similar interests. Just make sure it’s legal. I mean, learning how to pick locks sounds super cool, but creating a lockpicking group… Yeah, maybe just join a locksmith company or something? At least then it’s more incognito. Just sayin’.
Trust your gut. If a group doesn’t feel like the right fit, leave. I had that happen two times. The first time, I joined a writer’s group that met monthly. I wanted something more frequent than that. I wanted accountability. The same group also only covered three pieces of work, which was read out loud and then critiqued. Papers were everywhere, so many papers. There were maybe fifteen people there, and I heard some couldn’t make the meeting. Everyone was ten to maybe fifty or sixty years my senior in age (meaning I felt very young). A few had published books, whereas I hadn’t even finished even half a first draft. A few wrote in genres I felt uncomfortable about providing feedback on (poetry, romance, etc.). To clarify, the discomfort was in my lack of knowledge in those areas, and I very much wanted to be able to give constructive feedback.
All of those discomforts added up, and I left the first group. I never did get a chance to share any of my work, either. There were simply too many people and not enough time.
Group two was the first writing group I founded. Relationships took over, and the group became toxic. Writers didn’t want to write, myself included. Stress and tensions soared, and the group wasn’t happy anymore. To avoid conflict, I shut it down. Then I worked on creating a new group. Did it suck losing friendships and time? Yes. Do I regret it? No, and here’s why. After leaving, the air cleared, the stress went down, and the writing resumed, and not just for me.
Find the right group. Leave the ones that aren’t a good fit. The first part has the potential to be complex. The second part is easy, so long as you can recognize when it is or is not working.
Zo-ma-goodness. A quick Google search does wonders for finding just about anything. I took a few ideas and I searched my own area to see what I could find. Here are the results!
I’m serious! Super cereal, in fact! (Yes, that was a South Park reference.)
If it’s a new skill or an old one that you want to rekindle, libraries are a great resource. Librarians are amazing, too! Ok, but back to the main point. If you’re looking for a writing group, go where the readers go, your local library. Librarians often know about writing groups in the area.
My own original group contained four librarians. I was the oddball out, to be honest. If it’s a writing group you’re after, the library is the place to either start the search or to make a recruitment. All you have to do is get someone talking about themselves. To quote Tamatoa in Disney’s Moana, “Are you just trying to get me to talk about myself? Because if you are… I will gladly do so.” It’s not just villains, it’s everybody.
Odds are, they’ll tell you they’re working on their own novel. Either they have a group, or they’d love to join yours! And oh, would you look at that? There’s even a virtual writer’s event next month at my local library! Virtual Writers' Forum event on March 15th, 2023.
This one is pretty self explanatory. Google knows all. For good or bad, it knows all. But anyway, a quick search revealed the first one below, and Facebook and Reddit helped with the other two. Don’t limit yourself to just those platforms, either. Who knows what you might find in your area for writing groups? Well, that or any hobby or passion really. Just make sure they’re a good fit for you before going all in. A bad group can be devastating.
Seriously, this one is huge! If you have the funds, a writing class (or welding, or pottery, etc.) can connect you with local talent. Maybe someone in the class can hook you up with their own group. Maybe they’ll start one of their own. Or you can always recruit likely candidates based on the stories (or the artwork) they produce. It’s easier to find a good fit when it’s a safe environment, and classrooms tend to feel safer than walking in cold turkey to an event.
Ok, speaking of walking into an even cold turkey, lol. I myself have not yet attended a writing conference, but I am planning to attempt to do so this year. I shall likely be going to one of the ones listed in this article: The Top Writers’ Conferences for 2023 by Book Publicist Scott Lorenz.
Networking is important, in pretty much every industry. Besides groups, you’ll also find like-minded people to help with advice, tips, resources, inspirational videos, books, etc. So yeah, it’s a treasure trove of information. All you need to do is be social. Or, just hang around people who are social and let them do the talking. Because seriously, we all love to talk about ourselves.
One of the great things about this advice is that it sets you up for success later down the road, too. Not only will you find a ton of great people, and some probably not so great ones, but you’ll learn more about the industry. Editors, cover artists, agents, and more show up to these events. I’m serious about conferences being great. Ok, not all conferences are created equal. I’ve heard horror stories from plenty of teachers to know that. Anyway, I’ll have more to say about conferences later this year (I HOPE!).
Trying to avoid inspiration? Well, you’re in the wrong place already, so I can’t really help you. Sorry. But if inspiration is something you enjoy, then subscribe to my blog here or follow me on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram to see what I’m up to during the week.
As always, may your adventures be many and your inspiration be endless!