I’ve belonged to writing groups over the years, both online and in person. This year, I’m toying with the idea of starting a small group at the mobile home park where I moved last fall. It’s been hard joining things for the last couple of years for several reasons. Starting mid-2018, I was home-free and traveling in my motor home across the states. I never stayed in one place very long but I did stay in touch online with several writing groups.
Then I started re-assessing my nomad ways in March 2020 when we didn’t know what, across the country, would be open or available for RV parking. I was still living in my RV but I found a place I was able to stay for nine months. During 2020, I got on the waiting list for some long-term retirement type RV parks and was able to move to one in a new state a year ago. Now that most everyone here is vaccinated, we’re beginning to go back to the social activities of pre-COVID and I’m getting to know my neighbors and make friends.
On-line writing groups and critique forums can be useful but I was really starting to miss the in-person back and forth that can take place when you get together with others who share your hobby. From what I’ve been able to gather, there are at least four people that live here that would be interested in participating and that’s a good start.
In my ideal group, we would get together about two times a month. We would share a small excerpt on anything we are currently working on and receive feedback. We would also have one topic at each meeting that we would like to explore more and whoever has experience can share. These topics would include things like self-publishing, how to find an editor, designing covers, the best software for writing, and more.
Sometimes, throwing out a writing prompt and letting everyone work on it for fifteen minutes or so and then sharing is fun too. This can get the creative juices flowing when that particular project you’re working on seems stuck.
What I don’t like about writing groups is someone who feels they have to read whole chapters to the group at a time, taking up way too much of the meeting time. Or someone who just wants to share personal stories without letting up, thereby boring all other attendees. It seems there’s always one person like that in groups I’ve attended in the past but I think if the group leader sets the right tone at the beginning, those inconveniences can be avoided.
The scariest thing about in-person groups is sharing very personal writing pieces with people you see everyday or socialize with in other capacities. I feel like I might be editing myself a little bit and watching the TMI around my neighbors. The good thing is that I have plenty of writing pieces that aren’t too personal and still entertaining. That’s a good place to start until I feel more comfortable with the group.
Next task, pick a good name, pick a date to start, and then let the residents know and see what happens. What are your experiences with starting a writing group?