Written by A Guest Author

5 Benefits of Joining a Writers’ Group and 6 Considerations When Selecting One

by Robert Villanueva

Joining a writers’ group might be intimidating and finding the right one can take a little effort, but the benefits of doing so can be worth it. As founder/facilitator of The Bard’s Corner Writers’ Group in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, I have witnessed members, including myself, reap these benefits firsthand.

Here are five benefits of joining a writers’ group:

Connection. For some writers the need to get away from the routine of writing alone provides the impetus for joining. Members of my group have told me they sought a writers’ group because they recognized it was time to interact with other authors. Just being in the company of like-minded individuals is an important affirmation you are not alone in your journey.

Support.  For some writers, the lack of a support system is their reason for joining a group. It’s not that their loved ones didn’t care; they just couldn’t, or didn’t know how to, provide that important role. That support can include anything from reading their partner’s writing to recognizing their partner’s writing-related achievements. A group can fill that void, both during and beyond meetings.

Feedback. One of the most obvious potential benefits of joining a writers’ group is to get feedback on your work. Having your writing evaluated can be petrifying, but it can also strengthen your craft.  The feedback you receive can help you polish your work, and more.Resources. Bookstores, libraries and the internet offer a plethora of writing-related resources, and a writer can spend endless hours slogging through it all. On the other hand, group members often can recommend helpful resources without the need for extensive research. Members can share information about illustrators, editors, markets, websites and software.

Inspiration. By far one of the most cited benefits of being a part of The Bard’s Corner is inspiration. Just listening to others share their writing and ideas can be motivational, nudging a writer’s creativity. Creativity breeds creativity.

So you’re ready to join a group? Great, but you can save yourself time and frustration by asking yourself a few questions first. Much like the old journalistic approach to writing a news story, you can apply the five Ws and one H when considering membership in a group.

Who? Who are the members? Is the group genre-specific, like poets or romance authors? Are they all beginners? Professionals? Make sure you are comfortable with the membership, however that translates for you. Some group members encompass all levels and genres, but this is not true of all groups.

What? What meeting format does your prospective group use? Is attendance and participation required? Are there membership dues, or is the group free? Make sure your group is what you expect. There will be writers who show up, want to disregard the group format, and expect several accommodations. Those incidents wasted everyone’s time.

When? When does the group meet, and will you be able to attend?  Is there an attendance policy?  Our writers’ group, for instance, has no attendance policy and meets twice a month for two hours, but sometimes prospective members have too many other commitments. They invariably stop coming after a few meetings.

Where? Where does the group meet?  Is it a comfortable, convenient place for you? Do you prefer online meetings? Many writers’ groups met at local libraries or cafes before the pandemic, but are meeting online for the time being. You must determine for yourself if and how the meeting location factors into your decision.

Why? Why are you joining a writers’ group now?  Do you need feedback?  Inspiration?  Support?  If your prospective group seems to be able to provide what you’re looking for, it could boost your productivity. If you’re not sure why you’re looking for a group, you might be procrastinating. Examine your motives realistically to determine if you’ll gain anything from joining a writers’ group.

How? How will joining a writers’ group help you reach your goals? This ties in greatly to why you are joining the group, but you also should be able to justify how your membership will help you. How will the time you will spend at meetings fit into your overall writing schedule and goals? How will the advantages outweigh the effort?

Though a writing group might offer different things to different people, ultimately it can provide great benefits to its members. By finding the right one, you can enhance your writing experience and open doors to productivity.

Bio: A former journalist, Robert Villanueva is the founder of The Bard’s Corner Writers’ Group and a Kentucky author whose publications include fresh.ink, New Reader Magazine, The New Southern Fugitives, The Maine Review and The Summerset Review. The Heartland Review Press published his collection, “A Fable of Freedom and Other Stories.”

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