April 19, 2010

Start a Writer's Group - Kimberley Payne

Have you ever thought about joining a writer’s group? How about starting
your own group? There are many different ways to do so; as varied as the
writers who'll join the group.

Let’s start with the basic questions; how often and where do you meet? Writers from Inscribe share with us:

Laurie says, “We meet the second Tuesday evening of each month except for December when we sometimes meet the first Tuesday if the second one is too close to Christmas. In previous years we have met for July and August but this year the concensus was to have a break. We meet in a room in Martha's apartment block as she has no means of transportation. Prior to her living there we moved from place to place. We start at 7 p.m. although we may wait a few minutes for stragglers. We finish about 9.30 depending on
how many are there.”

Val Coulman’s com group also meets in-person at someone's home but they rotate. She tells us, “We share the hosting responsibilities. It's usually Saturday morning once a month for a couple hours.”

Like Laurie, Ken Kilback’s group meets in the same place each month. He shares, “Our in-person critique group meets once per month in my home. Since this group meets under the SCBWI umbrella, it's best to keep it at the same location, especially for new people or occasional drop-ins. We typically meet on the second Saturday of each month (or third if there's a long weekend to avoid) from 1:30 to 4:00 pm.”

Is it a good idea to host the meeting at a different location other than writer’s home? Ken Kilback doesn’t think so. “A long time ago we used to meet in a restaurant, but in the end it was too noisy and difficult to critique manuscripts. We tried meeting in a private room in a library as well, but the problem with that was that we couldn't reserve the room more than a few weeks ahead of the time so it wasn't great for promoting the meetings far in advance.”

Janet Sketchley agrees that it’s nice to stay in the home but there are pros and cons to it. She says, “We meet in different homes, trying to spread it around so nobody has to always drive long distances. When our group started we met in a church meeting room and were almost structured to death. We had minutes, officers and everything. Yuck. But I will say that meeting around a table brought an air of professionalism and/or focus. I wish we could go back to that without the formality. Meeting in homes, we always seem to wait for the stragglers, then spend too much time chattering. When we do get down to focus we have a good meeting. It's just harder to do in soft armchairs. We meet once a month except December, and often take July and/or August off. This year we skipped July and are having an August barbecue.”

Thinking of starting your own writer’s group? Start with the basics: give thought to how often and where to meet.


  1. I haven't had much time to do anything about it, but have certainly wanted to explore the idea now that I've moved to Northern Ontario.

    Great suggestions and Lord willing, I'll be able to follow up on them.

  2. Good post Kimberly! The best thing I have discovered about a writer's group is that it motivates me to write consistently because I know they'll be looking for a piece to critique. We meet every other week.
    Pam M.

  3. I've finally gotten into a group and it's been great. So far, we are meeting in one lady's home, because we haven't found a better place. We are spread out by about half an hour's drive, so try to meet in the middle. What I love most about it is the enthusiasm we all have for writing - and when we get together, it's so encouraging and uplifting. :)

  4. I agree that joining a writer's group is one of the best things you can do for your career as a writer!


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