There are many things that make a writers group awesome. Here are a few you should look for:
|Authors Incognito 2011|
What links the group together? For Authors Incognito, it's the shared experience of attending the LDS Storymakers Writers conference. For other groups, it could be a certain genre, living near each other, or personalities that just mesh.
Consider what type of experience you want the people in your group to have. Are you okay with beginners who have never edited for anyone before or, if you are a seasoned author, you may want feedback from others who are published and know exactly what types of points to nit-pick about. I know writers who belong to multiple groups, each varying in experience so they can receive different point of views on the same manuscript.
Are you and the other members of the group willing to take feedback? I'm not just talking about the "I LOVE this part!!!" feedback, but also the, "This just didn't jive for me and it needs a lot of work" feedback. Is there anyone in the group who's too sensitive? Because if there is (or even if it's you), they need to either grow thick skin and not be offended or search for another group. Did that sound harsh? I've been in a writers group where we all tiptoed around one person who only wanted to hear how awesome his writing was. It's not fun for anyone in the group - unless you happen to be the one person getting all the praise. So be willing to do the work and take the feedback. Have a good attitude. It's important to share the things you love about the chapter, as well as what you think needs to be improved. No bashing allowed. You should all be there to help each other become better writers and cheer each other on to publication.
We all have busy schedules, which is sometimes what dictates which group you attend. My writers group here in Kansas meets on a specific day in the evening. The only problem is I'm so not a night owl. Personally, I'm a "Bed by 9 pm" person. Our group usually lasts until about 10 pm and everyone knows that between nine and ten, I start to yawn, blink, and snack a lot so I can stay awake. Some weeks I'm much better than others, but, thankfully, my group is awesome and willing to put up with my sleepiness. I know groups who meet for lunch once a week, or who email chapters back and forth each week, then meet in person once a month because they need to travel farther to get together.
|Super Edits 2011: My awesome online critique group.|
Fun, Fun, Fun!
Writers group should be fun! Because if it's dreary, what motivation would you have to go back or to finish your manuscript? Enjoy each others works-in-progress, different point of views, as well as your friendship. I highly recommend celebrating together when someone finished their manuscript, gets a partial or full request, signs with an agent, or sells a book. Encourage each other and enjoy the topsy-turvy roller coaster ride of writing!
I would love to hear about your writers groups. Tell me what you love, what you wish was different, or if you don't have a group, what you're looking for. You never know who you'll connect up with!