Writing Group Structure
Our writing group meets for an hour and a half every Monday afternoon. Trying to run a weekly writing group with workshops and peer critiques would be a lot of time-consuming prep work. Time that I just can't commit to when what I want to provide is something consistent and sustainable. So I decided when I started this group, that it would be a Write-in. Our write-ins are a social experience to gather writers together to do what is normally a very solitary endeavor, write.
First 30 Minutes
Once everyone is settled in, we go around the table and give our thoughts on the topic of the week. We usually have 8-10 attendees each week, so everyone has a couple of minutes to contribute to the conversation. I like to take notes on these conversations and include them in our weekly newsletter to the local writing community. I've included some of the topics we've used in the past.
After our discussion, we spend the next hour on two 25-minute writing sprints with a 5-minute break in between (the pomodoro method). Our writing group includes people writing in all sorts of genres, we have science fiction, family saga, medical thriller, memoir, short story, poets, and more. What our regular members enjoy is having that protected space, free of distractions, to work on their writing.
Plotter or Pantser?
A plotter is someone who makes a plan to write, and a panster is someone who writes by the seat of their pants. I started as a pantser, but then evolved into a plotter. It took me over 10 years to finish the first draft of An Original Roswell. It only took me three months to write the first draft of Forever Home because I had a fantastic outline of the setting, characters, and plot before I wrote it!
Goal Setting is a great topic for a writing group. We asked people to set a goal, whether it's one day, week, month, or a year.Many members enjoy the accountability aspect of it. If we go around the table and you say, "I'm going to write 10,000 words a week!" then you are more likely to try to meet that goal. It can be used as a recurring check-in.
How do you get feedback on your writing?
Many of our writers were ready to share their work with readers, but didn't know how to go about finding them. We talked about Alpha Readers and Beta Readers to get feedback on your drafts as you revise. We also talked about finding your ideal readers by making sure you know who your intended audience is. We ended up creating an internal peer critique matchup process to partner writers with interested readers within our writing group.
What are your favorite writing tools?
We had a very diverse array of responses to this one. We have several writers who use pen and paper for their first draft. We talked about applications like Scrivener, ProWritingAid, Pages, and Microsoft Word.
Artificial Intelligence - ChatGPT
Are the robots going to take our jobs now that tools like ChatGPT, Bard, and others can write stories? We had an interesting conversation about the role AI can play in your writing.
Other topics we've discussed:
What is your revision process?
What is your writing process?
What do you read for pleasure?
How do you learn about the writing craft?
Procrastination, Rumination, Stalling - which one affects your writing style?
Where do you get your inspiration?
What is your greatest strength as a writer?
What is your greatest weakness as a writer?