How to Make Your Writing Group Run Smoothly

Leading a writing group can be a very frustrating experience. In fact, a lot of people consider the task to be something akin to herding cats. Writers tend to be independent, creative, and sensitive people and getting a group of them together for any period of time seems to almost inevitably invite drama. Luckily, there’s a few simple things you can do that will make most writing groups run smoothly and without any major incidents.

Your ideal writing group

A writing group, hard at work

1) Agree to the rules as a group and write them down.

The first thing that any writing group should do is negotiate the rules that all members agree to follow. These rules will often include things like restrictions on content, schedule for submissions, what to do if someone submits their work late, and under what circumstances someone will be asked to leave the group.

Once the group agrees on a set of rules, it is important to write them down and provide every member with a copy. This formalizes the process and will help make things feel less personal if something goes wrong later.

2) Stick to the schedule.

Are you meeting once a week? Biweekly? Once a month? Whenever you meet, it’s imperative that a group meets regularly and does everything to avoid canceling or skipping meetings. Remember, the point of a writing group is often to provide structure for writers. The less structure there is, the less useful the system is for most writers.

3) Always have a Plan B.

Even with the best groups, there will be times when people are unable to submit work and it will avoid a lot of drama if you already have a plan in place. Discussing the work of a published author or planning writing exercises can be two easy ways to fill in on days writers are unable to make the deadline.

4) Don’t take it too seriously.

Have fun. Write silly stories and make good-natured jokes. Have a sense of humor about the process and do your best to never take criticism personally. There is nothing more miserable than a writing group that takes itself too seriously. Laugh, make friends, and enjoy your time with the group and you are guaranteed to avoid most of the major problems other writing groups face.

Of course, this is only the broad outlines of what to do when it comes to leading a writing group. Next time, we’ll finish up our discussion about writing groups with a more specific look at actual examples of the rules I use for my own group. Until then, stay safe and keep writing!

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