Wednesday, September 12, 2012

how to find a writing group

you guys! i'm really excited about this post. if the exclamation point doesn't convey that to you, then how about all caps? I'M REALLY EXCITED! most people, when they find out i'm writing, and they are thinking about it too, they will inevitably ask how i found my critique group. i often answer that question by saying "tell the universe you are writing and your critique group will just come to you." which leaves them staring, unblinking at me, and me just shrugging my shoulders thinking, well it totally worked for me.

today i have one of my partners, olivia, doing a much better job of explaining how it really works. there's some great advice here, friends!

and to answer your second question, no, you cannot join our writing group. we've found that the number 3 works pretty good for us, just the right number to be efficient, but still allow for more than one opinion. every group is different though. don't panic or feel needy. the universe has enough for you and that means there are enough critique partners for you. they will come along if you do EXACTLY what olivia says.


It started in January 2009. I was ashamed & hid it from everyone I knew. Even my husband. 

I didn’t confess to him for 4 months & I didn’t tell anyone else until well into the end of the year. By that point it had become so all consuming and obvious I just had to admit it out loud.

I had started WRITING…

And that, my friends, is first step to finding support in your shared addiction of writing, or in other words HOW TO FIND AN EXCELLENT WRITING GROUP. 

Because nothing beats the coming together of other like-minded, obsessed, crazy people like yourself. Let alone the leaps and bounds your writing will take for the better.

So, step #1, friends?

To be able to find a writing group you MUST tell people you are writing. You may have NO friends that are writing. I didn’t. But when I finally told them I was writing it led to a friend who knew a friend who was looking for a writing group. Which lead her to introduce me to some of the most kindred spirits I’ve ever known, Rachel & Meagan.

All because I grew a pair and said it out loud.

This is not always easy. My first step was taking a “continuing education” class through a local University. (This is what finally prompted me to tell my husband I had been writing. I couldn’t exactly explain away my missing for 3 hours every Wednesday night). But if a small group like that is intimidating there is also a plethora of writing conferences you could check out. Those usually have a large group of people, great advice, and time to chat & network if you want. And, you’d be surprised, but just writing at Barnes and Noble A LOT of people will come up & ask us if we are writing or what we are writing. Most writing groups I know meet at Barnes & Noble.

I’m not saying go & eavesdrop on neighboring tables, but go ahead & eavesdrop on neighboring tables. Just not ours. 

Like love, a great writing group has to have chemistry. This isn’t something you can really know until you try a group out & see if you have that “je ne sais quoi”. I have tried two other writing groups besides my magical combination of Rachel, Meagan & I. The other ones verged on miserable. But don’t give up.

Because, like love, you might get the perfect match on the first try, but most of us have to search around a little bit before you find your soul mate.

Notice I didn’t say people who are “like” you. Or people who are writing the same thing as you. But people who are “like-minded”. My writing group is half therapy session/half writing. Because we have some similar experiences we can vent about what’s hard/craptastic/lame in life, get it out of our system and out of our brains. That, my friends, makes space for the onslaught of creativity, tinged with insanity that is writing. We are also in similar places writing-wise. Well, not so much me, but I am content with riding the coattails of my more brilliant counterparts for a bit.

And, what I believe is the most important step to finding a writing group is to….

Write your little heart out. Whether you have a support system of writers yet or not. Just keep on plugging the words out. The group & the help will come eventually, but to be ready for them you must have your words down. Your heart all in. Because the biggest thing about writing is that it can be all consuming, all encompassing, all engrossing. You have to throw your chips all in. Go for broke. 

And when you find people who are ready to go for broke along with you, then you will have found that soul mate of a writing group. 


  1. Thanks for the great advice! At some point, I'm going to try this out. I know I need to quit procrastinating, but I just feel too bogged down by so many other things right now, which may be a sign that I'm not really a writer. But, I'd like to try it out at least once. :)

  2. Interesting. It sounds like a lot of work, which makes me glad I don't aspire to be a writer.

  3. Utterly Amazing. And funny, as always! :)

  4. Thanks for having me! You rock, friend. So glad I found you. The universe came through with you ladies, for sure.

  5. Thanks Rachel - and Olivia. Maybe some day....... when boogers not belonging to my blood line and "the university way of thinking" are overtaking my life, I'll decide to write, until then - - great post! :)

  6. looks like a lovely mix of courage AND magic. great post, olivia.

  7. This is a great post. It's very true, to find a writing group, you have to let people know you are writing and put yourself in situations where other writers are. I have 2 people I exchange work with via email. I would have never found them if I didn't put myself out there!

  8. what a great post - if I had a writing group like yours, I would be seriously tempted to quit my full time job and just write write write