When I started looking around for a writer’s group to join, there was no big surprise that most of them are located near the city. Washington D.C. and Baltimore had a few, yet most were an hour’s drive with traffic reminiscent of a high speed video game. More importantly, they were not here.
Luckily I have the Internet; the wondrous technology that offers assistance and answers to most of life’s little problems. My answer took the form of http://www.meetup.com/. This web site offers members an enormous list of groups you can join. You can also form your own group as well, with the monthly price between $12.00 -$19.95 depending if you have a coupon (which thankfully I do). Only organizers pay the fee, though some groups ask for membership fees, or donations.
Features include the invaluable calendar that allows organizers (and/or) members to post meetings with listing a venue, time, and a text area for details. Members of the group then RSVP ‘yes’, ‘no’, or ‘maybe’, which then sends an email to the organizer. There is also a mailing list for all members, and a message board feature. Pages for your group include a file area, photo area, and member’s list, poll page where you can create/list polls, and an About Us page.
Personally, I’d like to see the About Us page switch to the main page people will view when they first click on your links. Why add that extra step? After all, the about us page has a simple HTML/text editor allowing to make some interesting, eye-catching pages.
But I digress. I meant to focus on the actual writer’s group I organized…
My writer’s group has certainly grown since the shaky beginnings a year ago. Membership is open to all genres, and all skill levels. We have members who haven’t officially completed a novel, to members who have printed books on the market. Some members sort of lurk in the group, never posting anything or showing up to the meetups. Occasionally I go through and delete them to maintain an active list. Others show up to every meeting and participate with enthusium.
I’m happy to say that the members who show up to the meetings and participate tell me how the group inspires and provokes them to write. This is my main objective; to help fellow writers to WRITE! Other purposes include activities to explore methods to cure writer’s block, to find creativity when it eludes us, and to form a tight community of writers where we can talk about our craft.
Meetings consist of various writing activities;
- Writing activities. We’ve used a number of activities to spark creativity, and most handy was the freewriting. This simple method helps provoke ideas and breaks writer’s block.
- Sharing our work for feedback and constructive criticism. This could include poetry, short stories, or even excerpts from larger projects. Members had work critiqued which was then later published as articles. We even had a few members who knew how to professionally edit writing.
- Discuss problems we have in the writing process. This includes a vast amount of questions such as How do you deal with laying out your plot? Do you use an outline? Where do you get your ideas?
- Workshops. So far, I’ve had workshops on author web design and how to publish an ebook.
The different styles of writing our members have add to our diversity, and even inspire one another to explore outside their usual genre. Many have more than one anyway, which is wonderful. Meetings are always interesting, and I look forward to our sharing moments, where you can catch a glimpse inside another writer and explore another world.