Writers' Groups

Been thinking about writers' groups lately. See, I don't really come from a fiction background. Pretty much all my schooling in writing is connected to theater so consequently pretty much all the writers I know personally are in theater. I love my playwright friends, and all my fiction friends on the web, of course but I do think it would be nice to create a strong group of fiction writers.

So I got to thinking about just what I would want out of this theoretical group. Here are my thoughts so far:

It should involve a diverse group of writers: I mean this in all ways possible, gender, race, age, etc, but also I'd hope to have a group of people writing very different kinds of books. If you're a literary writer I don't know if it makes sense to spend your time talking only to other literary writers of a sci-fi writer talking to only other sci-fi writers. The only caveat I would make is that it probably makes sense that everyone in the group is more or less in the same place career wise. I think people at the beginning of their careers are likely have very different needs than people who are more established. 

What happens in the group stays in the group: One of the biggest benefits to a writing group, I think,  would be building up a base of trusting relationships with other writers. People you can talk frankly with about the industry, career, your book, other people's books, all of that, and know it stays in the group.

It should be relatively small: 10 people? Less? That sound right? I've always been a "small circle of close friends" kind of guy rather than a "wide circle of acquaintances" kind of guy. I just think you can go into more depth with a small group.

I should be the least talented person involved: To me this is the scariest but maybe most important qualifier. I was at ALA recently and was surrounded at the Scholastic events by writers who are much farther along in their careers and better writers than me by far. It was incredibly humbling but an invaluable experience. You want to surround yourself by people you can aspire to, who will push you at he same time they're supporting you.

It should involve wine. Or cookies. Or both: I doubt this needs any explanation.

So those are my thoughts so far. What about you all? Are you in writer's groups? What do you think is key to a good one? What do you do in yours?


Alex said...

I'm not in my own writer's groups, but I would like one. I think you need to be with people you actually like and- when you don't want to write- people who you can like merely for their company and insight. Interestingly enough though, if there was someone in the group who hated you, it might help in making rejections or bad reviews liveable.

So a combination of friendliness and enmity. This means they should be honest about your book, but not unbearable to live with.

Susanne Winnacker said...

I agree the group should be small. I think 10 might be too big. It's good to have people around you who support you. I, for example, love my crit partners. I couldn't do this without them.

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