I was wondering if anyone would like to have a virtual writing group? I don't know how writing groups work but I thought it could be nice if people wanted to get together and we could chat about issues that we might be having and have accountability partners of where we have to write for an hour or 2. Like I said, I don't know how writing groups work so I'm open to any input and this is just an idea to see if anyone is interested.
I kind of feel like that is exactly what Townhouse is already - a group willing to give advice, amazing feedback etc. Though I can see the benefit of smaller groups with defined aims - the accountability to each other can work wonders I found with CampNaNo
Were you thinking a Zoom call, then, Brigitte? I - cautiously - like the sound of accountability, I confess. The problem with writing novels when you have no agent or publisher is that there's no deadline to work towards and I'm definitely better working to a deadline! :)
In the past year, I arranged two smaller writing groups. One fizzled out, admittedly, after 2 months due to work commitments of the other people. However, after taking a class in Winter 2020, I arranged a writing group with 5 other people in the class and we are still going strong. I went through a process in both instances to collect preferences for day/time, frequency, length of meeting and also how to structure the meetings. What is most important, however, is commitment and participation. For that reason in my second group I asked for a solid commitment if joining. It's been working wonderfully well. One member moved to Italy and yet still comes even thought it's 1am for her.
Given my experiences, I would highly recommend a smaller group of very committed people, committed to participation and accountability and writing.
A good writing group, for novel writers, is a long-term proposition. A novel isn't read - and certainly not given meaningful critique - in 15 minutes. A good, balanced group will have different people at different stages of their work at all times. Some will be ready for active critique. Others will be weighted more towards providing that feedback.
If you hold out on joining a group until you're ready to submit, what reason do the other group members have to trust your motives? It's better to join when you are still deep in the weeds of writing and self-editing, so you can build up some feedback credit before you need to cash it in.
Rick Yagodich , I think you hit the nail on the head on this. It is so beneficial to be in a group when you are still writing and/or editing. What I've found in the group I am a member of and also facilitate is that we are all at different stages and we do not 'require' anyone to submit pages. We 'raise our hand' and volunteer to submit pages for others to read and critique, taking turns, but only when a member feels they could use the input. We do have someone submit for almost every meeting, though twice we didn't.
We have set up a collaborative space online [Box] so that we can submit our pages and share with everyone in the group. Any comments that are made on the pages submitted are seen by all and can be further commented upon so the author gets even more feedback, more detailed input from differing views or verifying comments. It's really worked well.
In our collaborative space we have a Resources folder so if any member finds out some good information, an author to follow, a craft talk to attend, book to read, course, etc. it's put there for all group members to see. For example, I put links to Jericho Writers.
When we meet we go around so each member can give a status. It's not about besting anyone. It's about saying how well you've done, how challenged you might be, talking about a point on which you might be stuck and need some insight, etc. We also have general discussions about writing, e.g. to plot or not to plot in detail, the value of a course, a development reader, etc.
it would have to be dependent upon the people interested in the time zones nearest to them to come up with a group. I'm in London so happy to arrange a writing group for any times that are relatively close by.
I don't know when BST ends, but BST I'm an hour ahead and then for the rest of the time, I'm two hours ahead. If we can keep the camera and off, that's fine, because like do you really want to see my people facial expressions 🤣 (I'm joking😂)
I'm love to join the group regardless of the decision made!
Okay, I'm concerned this great idea is starting to drift, so I’m throwing out a rope for anyone interested in grasping it. The group should have:
Focus = could do worse than the Bath Flash Fiction* competition** (300 words. 3 x per year).
If you groaned when you read ‘flash fiction’ or ’competition’ see *explanations at the end.
Commitment = write first draft by group agreed date, get group feedback, edit it, and enter it.
Support = (preferably by ‘Zoom’) turn up for the ‘brainstorm’ session where we help each other come up with better than obvious ideas. Give feedback on first drafts and final edits.
If the overall group was too big, we could split into agreed ‘bubble’ sizes for support sessions.
LIMITS = If you find another writer is as interested in the concept of alien jelly wrestling or sharing holiday snaps as you are then you’ll respect the group’s time and take it outside.
So that’s my rope. Want to grasp it, strangle me with it, or weave more strands into it?
All the best – Heather.
*Why flash fiction? Mainly to set the time commitment low. Group members who have the time can always do more.
Further thoughts on flash: My preferred writing style is the opposite, but flash does have things to teach the new and remind the experienced. Like: The sentence beginnings and endings you can do without; replacing weak adjectives with a strong noun; telling a story (seriously, lots of writers stringing their pearls of descriptions together and calling it a story - flash forces us to cut descriptions to only where they enhance). And something I like to think of as ‘stop explaining’ (Also known as: letting the reader work it out for themselves), flash can be a fun experiment in seeing how far you can push this without causing heads to explode).
** Why competition?: A writing group needs deadlines or it risks becoming an exercise in procrastination. And because most publishers now keep an eye on the ‘better’ writing competitions, and the’ Bath Flash’ publishes all 50 longlisted.
Its a great idea to be part of a smaller group. I already have a smaller writing group with people that I’ve known virtually for quite some time and the benefit is that you get to know each other’s writing, objectives and novels in the making. After a time you recognise each other’s styles which makes it easy to comment or throw out a few suggestions. The group was founded when the predecessor of Jericho ended and is still going strong, although with its ups and downs. As I have a full time job, and these have been strange but busy times, I don’t participate as much as I should to my group so committing to another group is just not in the cards for me. That said, I think it’s a splendid idea for those who wish to be part of a smaller group. If people are committed, it’s a 1+1=3 for all. Good luck!
I would be really interested in something like this also. I need some accountability to keep me on track as I'm finding it very difficult to stay focused at the moment. I'm in the UK timezone, if anyone is interested in perhaps setting up a new group. A 1:1 arrangement for writing/critiquing deadlines would work for me either, DM me if interested. I'm writing sci-fi.
I've been investigating possible platforms that can be used. Free zoom has a 40 minute limit. I was also looking at which platform would allow for regularly scheduled meetings. I want to be able to set up some links and then that's what everyone uses. I might need to pay to get zoom for something like this but I was hoping to use something free. I really want to do this so I'll make it a mission to have an answer by Friday as to how we can proceed.