How to Populate Your New Writing Group

RobotOkay, so you’ve decided you want to start a writing group, you’ve picked a good café, and you’re excited and ready to roll. As I’ve mentioned, I started my writing group with just one other person. But ultimately, it’s ideal to have at least a few people showing up every week to make a group. You get multiple points of view going, and multiple streams of personal support. Plus, it’s just more fun. It starts to feel more like a party than a partnership.

But where do you find your fellow writers?

Right in front of you. You just have to know where to look.

Craigslist
If you live in a small town, I suggest taking out your own ad in the Community section for your metropolitan area. You can post in Activities, Artists, General and/or Groups. I’ve found the most success with Activities and Groups.

If you live in a large city, it’s sometimes more helpful to comb through the ads already out there. I’ve found a few of our new members by checking that same Community section (Activities, Artists, General and/or Groups) and just typing “writer” or “writing” in the search box. It’s kind of incredible how many cool people are out there looking for writing support. And even if people are specifically looking for a critique group or just a writing partner, I’ll shoot them an email anyway and let them know they’re free to stop by our group and check it out.

Meetup
Meetup is really nice because you can easily create your own group page, add your group description, meeting dates and times, and a list of members. Anytime someone visits Meetup and searches on your city using keywords like “writing” or “writers” your group will come up.

And if you’re having trouble drawing members on Meetup, some cities have timed-writing groups already up and running. You can sign up and then drop by in person to get ideas of how you’d like to run your group, and also meet potential writer friends. Shut Up and Write is an example of an excellent group offered in places like San Francisco, Silicon Valley, New York, and Austin. (Please note that they do ask you to RSVP and make the commitment to show up if you choose to attend one of their meetings.)

In Person
Writers and books are like seagulls and popcorn. If you go anywhere with a high concentration of books, you greatly increase your chances of running into a flock of writers. But keep in mind that some reader attractions require silence and hush (like libraries and author events), while others are more conducive to making new writer friends. You want to go to the book events where it’s easy to strike up a conversation with strangers—like book sales, library fundraisers, and open mic poetry nights at your local pub.

Once you run into someone who seems cool, just ask them who their favorite writer is. And then ask them if they’re a writer. You’d be surprised at how easy it is to break the ice this way.

Tap Your Existing Friends
If anyone you know is a writer, obviously extend the invite to join your group right away. And if it’s someone you trust, ask them if they would be interested in leading it with you. Ask your other friends about their friends, and their relatives, and the people they work with. Ask them if they know anyone they like and can recommend who is a writer. Tell your contacts to put the word out. Send out a mass email to your mailing list. Don’t be shy and don’t spam people. Just nicely ask around to see who’s interested.

Your writing group will be a major source of support and inspiration to you. And once you’ve found your tribe, the only thing left to do is write your book. It’ll be a long crazy journey, but starting this week I’ll be posting all about how to get through it. With a writing group, you’ll find others who want to get through it together.

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