6 Ways You Can Start and Run a Writing Group
Writers' groups can be your best friend and make you more productive. But how can you host and organize these get-togethers? We got you covered.
Do you need help being motivated to write? Someone to hold you to deadlines and make sure you're accountable? Sounds like you may need to host a writing group! Writers groups are great ways to feel more accomplished, have help along the way, and just have a group of people to brainstorm with when the going gets tough.
Today I want to go over a few tips on how to form a writing group, organize your weeks, and make sure it becomes more than just a bitch session.
So let's talk about writing groups and why I love them.
Special shoutout to Felipe, Brenna, and Keith - my OG writer's group - I miss you all.
6 Tips on How to Create and Run a Writing Group
My writing group helped me finish a few drafts, organize my thoughts, and improve my set pieces. While we don't meet regularly anymore, it was the highlight of my week during my first years in Los Angeles and helped me become a paid writer.
Even today, those bonds help straddle the industry and get me advice and reads from all over.
So how can you form and maintain your own group?
1. Get dedicated writers
This is easier said than done, but it's the most important step. Getting writers dedicated to the craft and making pages will go a long way in the process. So where can you get your writers? Reddit Screenwriting isn't a bad place to advertise.
See if you can get a bunch of diverse voices to help your group get the most constructive and unique set of opinions.
Poll your friends. See who would be willing to commit to writing weekly. Advertise on Facebook. Take a peek through #WriterTwitter.
Assemble your Avengers.
2. Stick to a schedule
A schedule for writing helps you have on and off-hours where you can be productive. For a writing group, it just gives everyone a day and a few hours to hold. I liked to do mine for around 2-3 hours so we had time to chat, take a break, and get into the pages presented each week.
Here's a top tip: create a Google Calendar and share it with everyone.
3. Set realistic page goals
Don't tell people they have to finish drafts or huge treatments. Set reasonable goals like ten pages a week. That way you also have a reasonable amount to share. When you go over pages, you want manageable bits to really dig into, but not so much time that you lose the pace.
It's important to give everyone a voice, so even if someone writes twenty pages, make sure you just go over the ten they want to cover.
Realistic goals also help no one get discouraged. You're team, be there for each other.
4. Let everyone lead
Each week, a new person should get to lead or host the group. Switch houses or apartments. Or even restaurants or bars. Let each person lead too. Let them talk, discuss the order, and do any brainstorming games or things they wanted.
When each person gets to lead it allows them to have agency. They will want to finish their pages and will be motivated more than anyone to help out.
Writing groups can get lopsided when some people don't turn out pages or people don't show up. Give them a chance to lead and they'll probably be there and be prepared.
5. Critique not criticize
The main reason writing groups don't work out is that people don't get along. Egos, assholes, and just hurt feelings never helps.
When you're going around in a circle and talking about each others' screenplays you need to remember that tearing it down will never solve anything. A general rule in any writers' room is that you don't shoot something down without a solution. Same in a writers' room. Come with solves to help your friends and don't get upset if they don't take them.
And you shoot them down the right way. Make the landing easy. I dig a compliment sandwich or even just a list of what works before we dig into what needs the most work.
6. Stick with it
Let a few weeks go past. Get deep into it. Things can be tough with schedules and other things in your life, but stick it out. I think your writing will be better and your experiences will be better because of them. So much of the job of a professional writer is the ability to come in on someone's draft, give notes, and come up with solutions.
Your group is polishing you for your real career.
So get started ASAP!
What's next? Start your screenplay!
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