Friday Speak Out!: DIY Project: Build Your Own Writers’ Group, Guest Post by Carolyn Boyette Lewis

Friday, February 21, 2014
When a small town writer finds there’s no writers’ group for camaraderie and critique of her writing-in-progress, it’s time for a DIY writers’ group project.

It’s not as difficult as you may think, so shush those inner doubts. Assure yourself you have the ability to do it. Put on your Superwoman persona and go for it!

Here’s how you do it:

Find a room where you can hold an informational meeting—perhaps at the public library, a coffee shop, your church, or a classroom.

Choose a day and time you think is convenient for other writers to meet.

Write a press release announcing a meeting to form a writers’ group. Include the date, time, and place, plus your contact information, in case people have questions. E-mail the press release to all print and online newspapers in your town. Ask them to publish it in community announcements as well as list it in their calendar. If your group is a Christian writers’ group like mine, send the press release to churches in your area also.

Arrive early for the meeting so you can greet people. Come prepared to chair the meeting with a simple agenda. This is helpful whether there are four people or two dozen.

Here are some points for your agenda.

1. Purpose: Discuss the purpose of the group. Decide if it is mainly for encouragement, critique, or learning writing skills. Or perhaps it will be a combination of these.

2. Officers: Will you have formal officers or will members take turns filling roles for the meetings? If informal, plan for a monthly facilitator to chair the meeting and to send out publicity ten days before the meeting. If you have a learning segment, plan for a monthly lesson presenter.

3. Dues: As a group, decide whether you will have on-going expenses that require dues or membership fees. Some groups do. Other groups handle needs that arise by a free-will offering.

4. Food: Will you serve refreshments or not? Will individuals bring their own if they wish?

5. Regular meetings: Select a regular meeting time that works for all. (Ex. third Tuesday 6:30-8:30 p.m. or second Saturday 1:00-3:00 p.m.)

6. Meeting format: What elements will you include in meetings? Will manuscripts for review be provided ahead of time (perhaps by e-mail) or will they be handed out at the meeting? How many pages will be allowed for review—perhaps three pages per member?

Our Christian writers’ group uses this format:
     10-15 minutes to share successes, struggles, announcements, etc.
     10 minutes for devotions
     15-20 minutes for a skill-builder lesson on the craft of writing
     Remainder of time—Feedback Forum to review writing-in-progress.

Even small towns usually have enough people interested in writing to build your own writers’ group.

So, what are you waiting for? Go do it!
* * *
Carolyn Boyette Lewis is a wife, mother, grandmother, and retired teacher whose love of writing bloomed in high school and continues today. She lives in a small town in southwestern New Mexico where she recently started a group for writers. Having started two groups for writers, she can confirm that most writers can accomplish this task. Currently, she is focusing on editing a book of poems she has written over the years.
Connect with Carolyn at;; and Sclew's Views.


Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!



Sioux Roslawski said...

Your post will--hopefully--inspire writing groups to spring up.

As Kevin Costner was told, "If you build it, they will come." If you create it, they will join...

(I belong to a wonderful, rowdy writing group. Their encouragement and honest critique has led to many publishing successes for me. My advice: if you don't belong to a writing critique group, join one--or start one.)

Thanks, Carolyn, for the post.

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