I’ve been lucky enough to be in a few different writers’ groups over the years. When our city had an active, vibrant, independent book store, two friends and I worked together to invite writers we’d met at writing conferences to do book signings and lectures there. Back then, authors were encouraged to travel to different cities for signings. Fort Wayne’s between Chicago and Indianapolis, so often we could get authors to stop at the book store as they passed through town. When we couldn’t find anyone, Dawn, Carl, and I would do panels once a month for the store. We met a lot of different, area writers that way. The experience was fun, and we learned a lot until the crowds got too big, and the store finally hired a publicist to coordinate its events.
My longest membership in a group, though, has to be Summit City Scribes. Each time we meet, three people (who’ve volunteered ahead of time) read, then we go around the table and critique their work. Our focus is on strong writing–hook, pacing, plotting, word choice, etc., but we also talk about marketing and share news with each other. I’ve read and heard almost all of the information before. We all have, but that doesn’t mean we always apply it. And it doesn’t hurt to be reminded. Scribes pushes me to write my best.
There’s a second writers’ group in town that meets once a month in the evening, from 7:00 to 8:30. This group invites a speaker each time who gives a program or a workshop. They’ve discussed Show, Don’t Tell; How To Develop Characters; Different Ways to Build Strong Plots; How To Find Agents and Sell, etc. I’ve attended some of their programs and enjoyed all of them. Plus, it’s nice to mingle with writers I don’t see very often.
Once a year, our main library offers a Fall Author’s Fair, and usually several of us volunteer to do panels with question and answer sessions. It always encourages me to get together with fellow writers and talk craft. Our approaches are different, but our goals are the same–to grow as writers and encourage each other.