How to Form a Writing Community

Recommendations for developing writing partnerships and groups

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Why find writing colleagues?

Art-making and spiritual practice both require solitude.  But if either are to deepen and become a sustainable source of personal connection and growth, we also need community.

A writing community gives the writer inspiration, perspective, other viewpoints, support, accountability, feedback, and collegiality.  Fellow writers can be early readers, giving writers a trustworthy test audience for their work.  Writing communities also broaden a writer’s exposure to new literature and to literary opportunities.

Where can I find writing colleagues?

Writers often first find community in classes.  To sustain us and challenge us to develop our skills over the long haul, however, we need to look beyond short-term connections and foster ongoing relationships.

The writing partnerships and groups that endure form organically.  When you attend classes, identify those writers you feel affinity toward, whose work you enjoy reading, and in whom you sense a similar commitment.  Reach out to these people not as friends but as writing colleagues.  If they become friends, wonderful—but take heed.  Socializing can interfere with the difficult, ongoing work of writing.  Too many writing groups dissolve into happy but unproductive gab fests.

For those living in the Twin Cities, there are many open and drop-in writing groups.  If reaching out to individuals is difficult for you, these groups are viable options. (See Appendix A.)

What forms might a writing community take?

Writing colleagues can meet in partnerships or groups, online, on the phone, or in person.

They can meet regularly, providing deadlines and reliable companionship, or irregularly, accommodating the needs of longer projects and busy schedules.  I recommend irregular meetings only for established groups.

Groups can be facilitated by a paid or volunteer writer; the facilitator role can rotate through the group’s membership; or the group can be unfacilitated.

Groups can be closed, permeable with qualifications, or open to newcomers.

To learn more about how to form a writing group, download the free PDF!

In addition to the basics, you’ll also receive tips on how to facilitate a group, guidelines for readers and writers in a group, and examples of writing groups online and in St. Paul/Minneapolis. I hope this is helpful for you and your writing life!

Thanks to Cheri Register for many of these guidelines.

Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew 2017