Thursday, March 19, 2009

Finding the Right Match

Question of the day:
Can you explain more about how I can find a good writing group (preferably online)-- i.e., one that can help me develop writing as profession, not just a hobby-- and how exactly writing groups work? I'm not really sure, for example, about at what stage you might share your writing with a group. Can groups help with brainstorming/developing ideas as well? How would you know if you trust a group enough to give honest, good feedback? Would you ever be worried about a group stealing ideas? I'm not sure if you've ever worked with a fiction group, but I know you say that freelancer groups helped you as you were breaking into that business.

The freelancer groups that helped me when I was breaking in were more geared to magazines. Specifically, I found an incredibly supportive group of folks over at, who, even now, are part of my network of support, and I've become dear friends with many of them. These are folks who often share the same writing philosophies that I do: that there is more than enough work to go around, that collaboration is a GOOD thing, that sharing contacts, etc, is good karma.

Unfortunately, I've never been in an a fiction writing group, but I wanted to post this anyway because I KNOW that there are readers out there who have been and who currently are, so if you are one of them, will you please share your insights as to how you found your group and how they help you? I imagine, though this is just a guess, than a writing class is a good place to start: you'll meet like-minded adults and can see who gels when you read your stories and give critiques.

Anyone want to weigh in to help this reader?


Anonymous said...

Backspace is an amazing community.

I've had problems hooking up with random writing groups online, because people are looking for different things and are working at all different levels with a variety of expectations. I have hit the jackpot a few times w/ a writer or two, but my best connections have come from people I met online through writing classes. I knew they were dedicated, I was exposed to their work, could estimate their level of expertise or enthusiasm -- and through that I've made a few real life friends and some amazing critique partners.

Trish Ryan said...

I'm not part of a group, but I imagine that taking a class that is geared specifically for where you are in the process would be helpful. For example, the crowd in a "start your novel" class is probably different than that in the "polishing your finished manuscript" class.

On the other hand, I can see the benefit of being in a group with a mixture of experience levels--published authors get fresh eyes on their latest work, while newbies get to tap the wisdom of authors who have been in the publishing world for awhile.

Maybe it all just comes down to chemistry--finding a group that gels?

And now we know why I'm not in a group...too many variables to consider :)

Trish said...

I found my writing group through another writer. So, my advice would be to find other writers you get along well with and then find out where they go and what groups they are in. My group is very structured (has a teacher who keeps the workshop moving in the right direction) and the teacher is well-published.

I've found that online groups are really tough (apart from Freelance Success and Backspace) because you have to really trust who you work with.

Hope that helps.

Trish L
Twitter: @trishlawrence

Anonymous said...

I've found a very informal group -- more of a regular sushi-and-writing-support group -- though a writer friend. It kind of formed organically -- my friend introduced me to someone I really liked, who also teaches writing, and that friend ended up bring one of her students into our regular lunches. We don't critique each other's work as much, since we have other people to do that, but we talk about the mechanics of writing and cheer each other on and try to support each other as much as possible. I've been part of classes before and found there is such a huge range of genres and styles -- both personal styles and writing styles -- that it was hard to connect with the right group. I think putting an ideal one together takes time. And yes, Trish, trust is key!

Anonymous said...

I've got a question! How did you start your writing career? I would love to become a freelance writer but want to test my skills first! I have a blog and know of a popular free newspaper, here in London, that print readers articles but I would like to find more publications and even enter my writing into competitions before I brave query letters. How can I find these outlets and is this the best way to go about it?

Maya / מיה said...

Thanks so much for the help! So maybe I should really be asking about where I can find online writing classes. (Seriously-- if you know of anything, Alison, I'd love to get info!) I submitted a short story to a recent contest on and it seems like a nice community, but a bit too uncontrolled-- I don't know that I'd want to share large chunks of my work there, semi-password-protected or not. Anyway, great ideas!


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