Writers spend much of our time honing our craft in solitude. But books don’t exist in a vacuum, and neither do writers. Surrounding yourself with writers who are chasing similar goals can be incredibly beneficial and rewarding. And being the person who facilitates such a community can be even better.
But starting your own writing group can be intimidating. You may not know where to begin or if you are the right person to bring together a group of writers. Let me reassure you that you don’t have to be the best or most experienced writer in the room. You don’t have to know everything. You just have to be the one willing to take the leap.
To help you feel more confident, let’s explore the decisions you’ll need to make, how to start a writing group yourself, and tips to maintain a successful writing group over time. Then, when you’re ready, you can create your own writing group for free on Inkbury and find the people who will be there for you until the last chapter.
Benefits of Starting a Writing Group
Before you create a writing group, it’s important to consider what you hope to gain from your group. There are many different types of groups, with unique benefits.
Feedback and Critique: Writing groups commonly provide feedback on each others’ work. Constructive criticism from fellow writers can help you see your work from new perspectives, identify weaknesses, and get used to receiving and incorporating feedback. With this type of group, it’s critical that members are committed. Leaders typically need to set ground rules to ensure everyone receives feedback.
Motivation and Accountability: Writing requires consistency. A writing group can serve as a support system to keep you motivated and accountable. Knowing that others are awaiting your contributions, or even simply that they will ask about your latest work, can be a powerful incentive to stay on track.
Connections: Writing groups offer a unique opportunity to expand your network within the literary community. Whether you’re a novice or an experienced writer, the connections you make can lead to collaborations, shared opportunities, and lasting friendships.
Decisions to Make Before Starting a Writing Group
Before you create your writing group on Inkbury, you’ll need to decide exactly what type of group you want to start. You’re not married to these decisions—it’s often a good idea to adapt to the needs of evolving groups—but defining the group up front will help you attract writers who are a good fit.
You’ll need to decide whether to meet online, in person, or both. Many writers find that hybrid groups strike a balance between convenience and effectiveness. Decide whether you want a physical presence in your local community or prefer the flexibility of an online group. Local groups provide face-to-face interactions, while online groups offer accessibility to a broader audience.
There are a plethora of activities that can happen at writing group meetings:
- Prompted writing
- Free writing
- Social activities
Your group meetings may involve several of these activities, but the best writing groups typically focus on one or two. You may also choose to vary the activities by meeting. For example, a group could hold critique sessions every other week, interspersed with writing sessions. It may have special social meetings at the holidays or to celebrate other occasions, such as the end of NaNoWriMo.
While we always recommend striving for inclusivity, writing groups often benefit from some level of common ground between members. Some groups are genre-specific, but arguably the most important thing for a strong writing group is that members have similar goals and experience levels. A writer who is writing fan fiction for fun is not likely to thrive in a group full of traditionally published authors, and vice versa.
Finding Members for Your Writing Group
After you have made an account on Inkbury and created your group, you’ll need to find writers for your group. If you have provided all the information about your group, writers may find you! Inkbury’s search tools allow writers to discover writing groups near them.
You can also search for writers who would be a good fit for your group. On the Find Writers page, click the filter button to sort writers by publication route and status, writing genre, and whether they are actively seeking a new writing group.
Setting Up the First Meeting
You’ve got a group and members. Now it’s time to hold your first meeting.
Select a convenient location for your meetings, whether it’s a local café, library, or a virtual space. Ensure that the chosen environment fosters creativity and allows for open discussion. Make sure everyone is comfortable with the chosen location.
You have already set clear guidelines and expectations for the group. Make sure your meeting aligns with those expectations.
Then create an event on Inkbury, show up, and have fun!
Dealing with Group Dynamics and Conflict
Conflict is inevitable in any group setting. Have strategies in place for addressing conflicts before they get out of hand. Focus on fostering respect and open lines of communication.
If your group incorporates critiques and feedback, you may find bruised egos to be the root of conflict. Be sure to set ground rules and expectations for critiquers and recipients. Critiquers should provide constructive criticism, with the intention of supporting their fellow writer. Recipients should understand that criticism of their writing is not criticism of them as a person. And everyone should check their egos at the door.
Create an atmosphere where every member feels valued and included. Foster a culture of respect and encouragement to ensure that your writing group remains a positive space.
Celebrating Successes and Milestones
One of the best things about being part of a writing group is being able to share your success with others who know how much it means to you. Celebrate individual and group achievements, whether it’s completing a project, getting published, or receiving recognition.
You may also define collective goals for the group to work towards. This could be a collaborative project, participation in writing competitions, or supporting each other in achieving personal writing milestones.
Once your writing group is established, you’ll need to continue showing up to keep the group strong. Schedule regular meetings, and try to establish a regular meeting schedule that accommodates the majority of members.
You may need to introduce variety into meetings to prevent monotony. Consider guest speakers, writing exercises, or themed sessions to keep the group engaged and excited about participating.
Ready to Start Your Own Writing Group?
Starting your own writing group may seem intimidating, but it can be incredibly rewarding for both you and the writing community. Whether you start an online or in-person writing group, the connections you create can have a positive, lasting impact on your writing career and your life.
Now that you know how to start a writing group, you’re ready to build your own group of writer friends—the ones you will thank on your acknowledgement page. Create a free Inkbury account to get started.
How often should a writing group meet?
The ideal frequency depends on the group members’ availability and goals. However, weekly or bi-weekly meetings are generally effective.
While many writing groups share their work, some only meet to write. Others make sharing optional. Choose the activities that best fit your goals.
What site should I start a writing group on?
Inkbury is the best site to start a writing group. Unlike Meetup, which charges organizers a monthly fee, Inkbury is completely free. Instead of Facebook’s distractions and algorithm, Inkbury has writer-specific tools for finding members and groups.