One of the things about Western Maryland is how anything worthwhile seems to happen to the busy part of the state; namely Baltimore and Washington D.C. So when I looked to find a writer’s group, the only one at the time comprised of already published authors. I hadn’t published a thing so that left me in the cold.
I decided then to form my own writer’s group. I’m not shy about organizing groups. This wasn’t the first time I was at a loss to finding a group I wanted to join, only to have to start my own. I can proudly say, my writer’s group is the largest in Western Maryland with thirty five members. (Only six members show up at the meetings, which is perfectly fine. Anything more than that and you’re not likely to accomplish much).
You too can accomplish organizing a group, and here are a few tips along the way:
- Keep in mind you’re the organizer. Members look to you to make things happen. This often means finding the venue to meet, finding the topics and subject your meetings will cover, and to move things along in the meetings themselves.
- Protect your group. This translates into making hard decisions if someone isn’t working well with others. I’ve removed members if they couldn’t follow the rules. I try to listen to both sides, but generally if a member proves disruptive, they need to go elsewhere.
- Pick meeting places that work with your group. You need a meeting place that has enough room for members, but also provides the quiet so that members can read, or provide feedback without interruptions.
- Keep an outline of your meeting. This helps move things along for everyone and takes advantage of the time together. (See below for a quick outline).
- Don’t be shy in asking for help. This includes asking for money. If your group helps members, asking for donations or assitastance allows member to participate. You might be surprised that people want the group to succeed.
Sample Meeting Outline:
- I start with introductions to any new members, with the usual members also introducing themselves.
- I cover the group’s issues first and foremost. This includes membership fees, change of venues, issues that arise, contests, and any new ideas I want to present.
- We then go to the topic of discussion. This could include publishing, plotting, character development, or any number of subjects.
- We move to feedback, where anyone who has chapters to share, they hand them out then. Sometimes if we have too many, they write their email on the drafts so that members can email their feedback. Otherwise, we offer the feedback then.
- The meetings slow down to open discussion where members can bring up issues, share stories, or bring up anything they want.
- I end the meeting with when we’re meeting again.
You can decide on how you want your meetings to go. I also should add that it takes time to get members. My group started with a handful of people, most of which never showed up or participated online. Now I have over 30+ members, with ten members that show up and participate regularly.