In high school I was passionate about becoming a teacher. When I heard about Future Teachers of America, I wanted to belong. Why? To be with like-minded people who shared my enthusiasm. I started a chapter, called a meeting, posted flyers and waited at the appointed place and time. And no one showed.
Decades later, when my passion turned to writing fiction, I had better luck. I am a member of not one, but two, terrific writing groups.
How does a writer find a writing group that fits? I consulted with Kevin Symmons (www.ksymmons.com or https://www.facebook.com/kevin.symmons), President of the Cape Cod Writers Center, who has facilitated numerous connections between writers and writing groups. Kevin suggested looking for a group:
- Whose members share similar interests, experience, and writing credentials. Note: some groups interview prospective members and others request writing samples;
- That meets at least every two weeks. Every week is better;
- That consists of between four and eight writers. Six is best;
- That encourages frequent sharing of work—a maximum of ten pages;
- That encourages those receiving feedback to listen and take notes rather than argue point-by-point;
- That meets in a public place to keep the focus on business;
- That expects feedback to be given in a spirit of respect;
- That doesn’t tolerate “intellectual bullies” who are loud, offensive or make derogatory remarks.
- That has an up-front rule that group members do not critique one another’s philosophy, politics, religion or other deeply held convictions.
Kevin’s suggestions make eminent sense. I would add that advertising in the SinCNE newsletter and passing out flyers at Crime Bake helped me when I wanted to start a writing group. Unlike high school, this time people showed up.