Regardless of whether you are a new writer or have been multi-published, I would always recommend belonging to a writing group – you can always learn (and teach) something.
If you are based in the UK and are looking for a writing group, the best place to look is the National Association of Writing Groups’ Directory of Writers’ Circles. If you live in the US there’s a great list here and for Canada there’s a page of allsorts.
I live in Northamptonshire, England and there are various writing groups in the county. I am involved in three: Chair of Northampton Writers Group (fortnight Thursdays), second-in-charge at Northampton Literature Group (first Tuesday – the NLG also has a new blog!), and member of Towcester Writers Group (third Wednesday) where I’ll be doing a talk on eBooking in April.
I have been a member of the Northampton Writers Group (NWG) for a couple of years and am delighted to say that I was nominated (to my surprise!) and voted in as Chair at the 2012 and 2013 AGM. Wow.
The NWG website is http://www.northamptonwriters.org.uk (calendar listed below) and also some of the group’s writing. Nick, our Secretary, who updates the website and tirelessly organises the long-running H.E. Bates Short Story Competition, does all the hard work so I plan to get more involved and hopefully spread the word a little more about our group, even if it’s just here on the internet. Membership to this group is £5 a year plus £3 per person per visit.
We meet every other Thursday evening – details on the home page of the NWG website. Every other fortnight is ‘Free Manuscript’* where we can read out anything we’ve written / a work in progress and want critique on, with specific topics in between. The NWG is also listed on the Directory of Writers’ Circles (although Nick’s address is incorrect).
NWG Calendar 2013
Jan 10th – Free Manuscript*
Jan 24th – AGM
Feb 7th – Free Manuscript*
Feb 21st – A recollection / embarrassing moment
Mar 7th – Free Manuscript*
Mar 21st – Easter theme
April 4th – Free Manuscript*
April 18th – Poetry evening
May 2nd – Free Manuscript*
May 16th – Writing on the spot: inspiration from an opening sentence
May 30th – Free Manuscript*
June 13th – Luck (or its opposite!)
June 27th – Free Manuscript*
July 11th – One-act play
July 25th – Barbecue and auction (different venue)
we will then meet again on 5th September which will be a ‘Free Manuscript’ and an opportunity to discuss the forthcoming topics…
I’m also a member of the Northampton Literature Group’s Writing Circle (NLG), lead by Alan Bryan, and we meet at the University of Northampton Park Campus, Northampton on the first Tuesday of every term-time month (unless closed when we meet at Richmond Retirement Village, Grange Park). The format is pretty much the same each time: a 5-minute free writing from a one-word prompt (which we then read out), read out and critique of previously-set homework (usually c. 500 words) and a round-the-table sentence start which can lead in a variety of, often hilarious, directions. Then I do a workshop varying from keywords or sentence starts to mixed bag or scenarios… the sort of exercises I put every weekday on my Online Writing Groups. Membership is just £10 a year (with no meeting fee as we’re not charged for the room) and that gets you into the writing group (first Tuesdays), reading group (second Tuesdays) and poetry group (third Tuesday), all at the same venue term-time. They also have a theatre group but this is an extra fee, see the NLG website for details.
** NEWSFLASH! ** NLG has announced a new Flash Fiction competition and I’m Head Judge!
I’ve also just recently joined Towcester Writers Group which meets 7.30pm-9.30pm every third Wednesday evening. The 2013 calendar is as follows (OM = Open Mic night, reading out a theme or work-in-progress):
January 16th – OM (theme: use the last line of a book by another author as your first line), the Group celebrates its first birthday
February 20th – OM (theme: write what should not be forgotten)
March 20th – OM (theme: “I’m sorry, but you’ve been kidnapped”)
April 17th – Guest Speaker: Morgen Bailey re. eBooks
May 15th – OM (theme: Taste of the universe)
June 19th – OM (theme: What makes you come alive, using an image as a prompt)
July 17th – Guest Speakers: Leslie and Sue Hampton
August 21st – OM (theme: The wallet he found)
September 18th – OM (theme: First line: There are 3 things she told me never to do…)
October 16th – OM (theme: Halloween)
November 20th – OM (theme: Which door will you choose, using an image as a prompt)
December 18th – Christmas Party Night
Unless otherwise specified, the cost for all other meetings is £3 including refreshments. TWG’s website is www.towcesterwriters.weebly.com, they’re also on Facebook and group lead Louise Gibney is also on Twitter. I’m also listed on their Meet our Writers page.
As well as being morgenwriteruk on Twitter, I also tweet about the groups I’m involved in at NtonWritingGrps and if you’d like further information on any of these groups, or have questions about belonging to or setting up a writing group, then do let email me. I blogged on the topic in March 2012.