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kct webber
05-07-2008, 01:55 PM
I've lived in my area for five years now and have been looking for writers' groups the entire time. No luck. I know that there must be writers here, but so far I've not been able to identify a "gaggle" of them. So I'm thinking of starting my own.

I have already talked to people at the library, all the bookstores in town, and I've got the contact info for all of the "arts" organizations in town. The library said that I can put up fliers and all that. But I don't really know how to proceed. Has anyone here ever started a group or "ran" a group? Any advice would be appreciated.

KTC
05-07-2008, 02:29 PM
I have a group. There are 8 of us and we meet once a month in my house to critique each others' novels. I put the call out for this one through our umbrella writers' group, though... so I can't help you there.

I can tell you that I organized something about 4 years ago that was extremely successful... just by putting out flyers at libraries, community centres, etc. I think that's all you will have to do. I put together 3 'Writing in the Park' events at a gazebo in an area park. I had each one facilitated by a different workshop presenter and I made posters and put them up. Writers are everywhere and a lot of them are timid and always looking for a way to find other writers but too afraid to take initiative. All three of those 'Writing in the Park' events were overcrowded... bursting at the seams. And quite a few of those who showed up were not in our umbrella writing circle (though they are now). Writers are looking... trust me. You put up your flyers and include a number and email address and they will contact you.

I'm not sure what kind of writing group you want to create... just a small one to meet for critiquing or an area group, etc. Our umbrella group is going on 300 people strong and is probably one of the best run writing organizations in North America (Yes... I'm saying that. Our success speaks for itself). But on a smaller level, we have several groups of writers who meet around kitchen tables, library tables, community centre tables. I think it would be better if you know what you want and ask me specific questions... pick my brain. I'm sure I will be able to give you the answers.

Devil Ledbetter
05-07-2008, 02:42 PM
I just realized that if I start a local writing group, instead of starting critique sessions I'd want to have write-ins. I found them very productive during Nano.

KTC
05-07-2008, 02:45 PM
If you want to know how my critiquing group functions, I can give you those details too. They're pretty simple, actually.

Our first meeting, we sat around the table and build up our ground rules together. I felt the need to make the group democratic... it was at my house and I created it, but it needed to be all of us in on the decision making process.

-8 people (it was 9 and still is technically, but the 9th has been on a sabatical)

Month 1 - 4 people hand in 8-10 pages of a work in progress. 1 copy for each of the 7 other members.

During the month the 8 writers read and critique the 4 excerpt submissions. We have guidelines for critiquing too. They are set in stone.

Month 2 - We meet and openly discuss the 4 works on the table. We pick names from a bowl to decide the order and each of the 4 writers pick one page of their excerpt to read aloud. Once that is done, we enter into discussion on the piece. All the tiny things like grammar, punctuation, etc... they are all marked on the handouts. No need to discuss those openly. We discuss what works and what doesn't. We brainstorm... At the end of this session the 4 writers who were not critiqued hand out their excerpts for the next month.

And so on and so on.



I've also been a member of the kind of group that meets to do on-the-spot writing. We do the stop watch thing and throw out a prompt and go. Then we go around the table and read our work. But that's another story.

KTC
05-07-2008, 02:47 PM
I just realized that if I start a local writing group, instead of starting critique sessions I'd want to have write-ins. I found them very productive during Nano.


hehe... I just mentioned that in the bottom of my last post. Yes... they are fantastic. The energy is wild. We always found that we'd write about the same stuff. It was actually quite terrifying... the mojo works in mysterious ways. We'd do 5 or 10 minute timed writings and then read. The emphasis was that this was wild mind writing and therefore could not be critiqued. After the writer read their work, those listening would then read back the lines that most sung to them in the reading. It was fantastic. I was in that group for about 4 years and we met once a month in a very far away library. It was just too far away for my schedule... though I loved it, I had to pull back.

kct webber
05-07-2008, 03:20 PM
Sorry for leaving the post unwatched. I got kicked offline due to a storm.

KTC: I think the 'getting people together' thing would be easy enough. Or I hope it would. Like I said, the library has already agreed to let me post fliers. It's the organization part that I really need advice on. Like when you first started and how you got things rolling. I've started a sort-of ground-rules list. Basically it's pretty much the same as here, minus the the online stuff. Respect, no retaliatory crits, etc. Franky, I'm just nervous about what I'm going to do when the meeting day comes and there's 200 people. :)

kct webber
05-07-2008, 03:22 PM
And David: That write-in thing sounds like it would be cool.

KTC
05-07-2008, 03:30 PM
Sorry for leaving the post unwatched. I got kicked offline due to a storm.

KTC: I think the 'getting people together' thing would be easy enough. Or I hope it would. Like I said, the library has already agreed to let me post fliers. It's the organization part that I really need advice on. Like when you first started and how you got things rolling. I've started a sort-of ground-rules list. Basically it's pretty much the same as here, minus the the online stuff. Respect, no retaliatory crits, etc. Franky, I'm just nervous about what I'm going to do when the meeting day comes and there's 200 people. :)

What I did was first come first serve and firm up in email and phone calls for that first meeting. We started over 3 years ago and we've always been the same people. I actually have a waiting list and added another to it on the weekend... but I don't see anybody leaving, so the waiting list is not something I think I will ever get to. And yes... we fully covered the respect and no retalitory crit things on day one. I had a full list of my wants and needs when we sat down to make up the rules. Don't allow people to just show up on the day of... or you might get 200. (-; Make them contact you and book a spot and then say sorry there's no room to the others after you reached your comfortable max. But tell the first three or four above your limit that you will put them on a list... some may come to the first meeting and decide it's not what they're looking for. You wouldn't want to put out a second call so keep a few on back up.

KTC
05-07-2008, 03:31 PM
Any specific questions... just ready aim and fire. I'll check back later in the day.

kct webber
05-07-2008, 03:39 PM
Yeah, first come first serve sounds like a good idea. That would limit my responsibilities, but would actually allow me to do the "umbrella group" thing if I chose to--hooking people up with others. Something that gets kind-of a writers' network around here. So far there seems to be nothing of the sort for us here. There should be. I'm convinced that we could probably have a web of small groups around here in no time.

kct webber
05-07-2008, 03:46 PM
Do you deal with the established 'arts groups' in your area? Would it even be beneficial? Do you get any support from these groups? And if so, what kind?

How did you go about getting venues? It may be difficult for me to meet at my house, 'cause I live outside the city and I'm assuming that most of the people I find will live in the city.

Do you find the need to charge or take donations? I only ask, because I haven't thought about any potential costs associated--if there are any.

I'm sure there are more questions that I should be asking, but this is new to me. :)

WittyandorIronic
05-07-2008, 04:46 PM
Don't know if you hit google up yet, but there seems to be some sound advice out there.
http://scififantasyfiction.suite101.com/article.cfm/startingawritinggroup
http://www.ehow.com/how_18031_start-writing-group.html
http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/how-to-start-a-writing-critique-group.html
http://www.unc.edu/depts/wcweb/handouts/WritingGroups/starterpage.htm
http://www.fictionweek.com/writinggroups.html
Sorry if you have already covered those...hope they help if not.
Good Luck!

KTC
05-07-2008, 04:49 PM
The numbers here probably wont correspond with your questions... I'll just tackle them all...or attempt to.

1. The Umbrella Group - see www.wcdr.org They started out as about 4 or 5 people with an idea to create an area interest group. We are now about 300 strong and are listed as a non-profit organization. We have a yearly membership fee... this money goes toward member initiatives, etc. We have a once a month networking meeting where we have a guest speaker. This is at an area restaurant. The board of directors have certain people looking after certain aspects of this. For example, we have a speaker liaison who books the speakers, we have a breakfast coordinator who works with the restaurant and takes the member bookings. Other board members are memberships/web liaison/secretary/etc... All board positions are volunteer... nobody gets paid to make this organization run... all membership dues go back into the membership projects. We have been awarded government grants and have affiliations with other art groups across the country. This may seem like a huge undertaking... but once it is set in motion, it is a well oiled machine that just blossoms. The WCDR has been around for either 11 or 12 years now... can't quite remember. I was on the board of directors for two terms. I can get you all the information you need if you are thinking about creating an umbrella group. This is something the WCDR is actively interested in... helping others form the kind of organization they themselves have put together.

2. For your own group... for the smaller group, I do not take any donations or charge anything. Everybody is responsible for bringing enough copies for everybody when it comes to handouts. I supply coffee/tea/drinks and snacks... but I found that every month there's always somebody bringing something too. I have a cupboard filled with every kind of tea you could imagine... members of the group have stocked the cupboard. (-;

3. Venues for your own small group. I would check the library. One of the ones I participated in met in the library. There was a nominal fee for the room and we booked it for every second Thursday. The person in charge of the group... the creator... collected $2 from each person who attended each meeting. This fee covered the small room charge. You could see if there is a community centre room that does not charge a fee, etc. Just look around.

4. You asked about other arts groups... it is beneficial to have cross membership of networking between other art groups when you are an umbrella organization. We have a few organizations that we have partnered with in the past.

More later...

kct webber
05-07-2008, 05:12 PM
Thanks Witty. Those are good links.

KCT: I am planning on calling some of the arts groups today. I could see how it would be beneficial in general, but most of the ones around here are for painters, sculptors, etc. I may have to convince them to expand their coverage a bit. This place really is a vacuum, I'm telling you.

I would be very interested in the umbrella group info. I know that it will be a long thing in coming--I plan to start small--but it's something that this area could really use. I'm going to go over the WCDR site in depth later. I glanced in at it, but I'll have more time later.

This city is pretty good sized, but we don't have a community center. We have a huge library though, so that's good. We have a nice pub that kind of caters to academics and students too, so that may be an option. They have an upstairs for meetings and such.

I really appreciate your info. Man, that umbrella group thing sounds awsome; I would love to have something like that here. But if you don't have one, make one, right?