by Chloe Trogden
Writing groups can be incredibly effective tools for helping you take your writing to the next level. Or they can be an incredible waste of time and leave you feeling frustrated and ready to give up. In order to make writing groups work for you, you need to make some informed choices.
Here are a few tips for using writing groups to help make your writing the best it can be and reach your writing goals:
1. Find like-minded participants.
First off, everyone has to be on the same page — not only about what you want out of the group, but also about what kind of writers you are. Everyone needs to be equally committed to the success of the group to get and give the best feedback.
Everyone in your group should also be interested in the same type of writing or have similar philosophies about their approach to writing. For example, if you write romance but everyone else is interested in sci-fi, you aren’t likely to get the kind of feedback you need. If you take on an experimental style but everyone else writes in a straight-forward narrative, their advice might not be relevant to what you’re doing. Make sure you find other writers who have the same or complementary interests.
2. Limit the size of the group.
You’ll have trouble getting the in-depth feedback you need in a large, live writing group. You either won’t get your work reviewed often enough, or the group won’t have the time needed to really dedicate meaningful conversation to it. You need to join a group that has a small number so everyone can get enough review time, or split a large group into smaller sub-groups for critiques. There’s no hard and fast rule for how many is too many, but aim for around five and definitely less than ten.
3. Start with clear guidelines.
Make sure everyone knows what’s expected from the group by setting clear rules at the beginning. This should include what the review schedule will be, how feedback will be managed, what must be submitted for review, etc. Must submissions be a certain length? Will you issue prompts? Can writers talk while they are receiving feedback? Consider these and other questions early on to keep everyone on the same page.
4. Rotate moderators.
Every group will benefit from different perspectives. It’s important to rotate moderators so that you get that change in perspective. Different moderators might bring new ideas that can push the group forward. They might be able to institute different rules that will help the group or to inject a new energy into the discussions that they lead. Create a schedule, and ensure that each member who’s interested has a chance to moderate at least once.
5. Ask pointed questions.
When you get feedback for your work, don’t just be a passive receiver. Come with a list of questions that you want answered about how to make the work better or how to overcome specific problems you’re struggling with. Ask questions that help you understand how readers perceive what you’ve written, so you can make sure you’re getting your message across clearly.
When used correctly, writing groups can help you to take your writing to the next level, to make your work the best it can be, and to overcome the weaknesses in your writing.
Have you worked with a writing group? What tips can you add?
Looking for a group of like-minded go-getters to help you along your writing journey? Join the Writer’s Bucket List Action Team on Facebook to connect with other DIY Writers and get started on your Bucket List!
This is a guest post from Chloe Trogden. Chloe is a seasoned financial aid writer who authors a comprehensive online financial aid guide at collegegrant.net.
Photo in the featured image by Paul Lowry (Creative Commons)