27 August 2015

Writing group alternatives

The other day I received a message on Facebook from a writer who lives in rural England and wants to improve her craft. She asked if I know of any online writing groups she can join. I don't know of any specific online critique groups looking for new members, but I do have several ideas for how she (and you!) might find sources of feedback, community, support, and/or encouragement. Here's what I told her:

1) Bookworks is an interesting site that offers a variety of services, including the ability to post 2,000-word excerpts of your WIP for peer review. I don't have personal experience with that feature, so I don't know about the quality of the feedback or how many people are engaged in it, but it might be worth checking out. There is a membership fee for some of the site's features, but the Work-in-Progress feature is part of the free Core membership plan.

2) The ROW80 community is active and supportive. Most people only use it to post updates on their writing goals, but I have seen people post - and get comments on - short excerpts from their WIPs. This community is more about encouragement than critique, so the feedback might not be as constructive as you need. That said, this is another free option and a great way to connect with other writers and get some support for remaining accountable to your goals.

3) Are you on Twitter? If so, you could use it to find/connect with other writers who are interested in an online peer critique group. Some hashtags to explore: #writeclub #writers #writerslife

4) If honest, constructive feedback that will help you improve your writing is your highest priority and you're willing to invest some money, you might consider writing coaching. I work with writers to help them articulate their goals, including identifying strengths and areas of improvement for their writing, and then act as a guide-on-the-side as they work toward accomplishing those goals. Given that one of your goals is to improve your writing, this would include goal-oriented feedback on your writing.

Jane Friedman's article "How to Find the Right Critique Group or Partner for You" also has a bunch of great ideas for finding sources of learning, community and encouragement. I also recommend you read her follow-up article, "The 4 Hidden Dangers of Writing Groups."

How did you find your writing group or partner? Did you get/are you getting what you need(ed) out of it?

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