Any aspiring writer, that’s who!  

Not sure if you fit into this category, or maybe feeling a bit shy about sharing your work?  Or may be you’ve dipped your toe in the Writer’s Group Pool before, and it came out smelling of other people’s unwanted opinions or mal-advice about what to do with your work?

Well, I’ve been there, done that and sulked for quite a long time afterward.  I realise now what a waste of time all that sulking was.  We all know that writing is a solitary job (take now, for instance - early Sunday morning sitting here writing this with no friends around except a cup of coffee and a cat who is playing deliriously with a dead bird. Nice.)  So it’s really important that you Get Out There and find like-minded people. Ah, I hear you say, not always so easy...

WG 1, several years ago included an elderly lady who was clearly a Pillar of The Establishment and saw no reason for any ‘bad’ language in writing, so a simple ‘blimey’ meant your work was condemned (in her mind).  To me, the epitome of bad writing is putting that apostrophe where it shouldn’t be, and, constant, over-use, of, commas.  ‘Piss off you idiot’ however, if used in the context of the writing, is not.  So, she shredded my confidence and I shredded my work and I never went back to that group.

WG2 consisted of myself, a lady I used to nod to on the way to the post box and two retired soldiers who spent the evening reliving their (as it turned out) rather uneventful careers.  So that writer’s group died on its arse as well.

Enter group 3.  I have to go out of county to visit this one - a car journey and everything!  But it’s worth it.  And found through Writing Magazine. Three years ago the group had a membership of four - four and a half if you counted the chap who made it 50% of the year.  Now we are 26 strong.  Not bad.

If you are a writer’s group chairperson/leader, it’s so important that you advertise what you do and why you do it to any prospective newbie.  Yes I know, that all sounds rather obvious, but if they're looking for a supportive and encouraging group then they need to know what you can offer.  I belong to a group who write to get published, as opposed to those who write for pleasure.  Big difference.

So, if you're a little lost writer seeking support and succour from other writers - here's the next bit:
No writer’s group near you? You know what’s coming don’t you?!  Start one yourself - but

1)     Be clear from the outset what it is you’re about and what you
     want from the group

2)     Don’t let anyone take over the group either by stealth or
     storm - it’s your group and you’re in charge (in the nicest
     possible way)

3)     Set out the group’s feedback guidelines - and use them.      Telling people their work is crap is not helpful. Suggesting
     amendments and how it reads from the viewpoint of
     the reader are

4)     Sort out a freebie website - there’re 1000’s out there - even BT
     run a  good one. No really, they do

5)     Sign up to every website, blog and newsletter you can and      let the info flood in. Then you’ll have something to talk about at
     your meetings

6)     Always have an agenda for each meeting, ensuring that the
second half of the meeting is for members to read their work

7)     Keep going.  Even if there are only two of you to start with!

8)     Advertise your group where ever you can - libraries, on- line, local events - if people don’t know you exist, it may well end
up a group of one.

9)     Which is where you started, isn’t it!

10)   Trust me. I’m a writer. And I know that much of my success so far has been down to the fact that I belong to a writer’s group.

11)   Oh - and it’s ok - you can belong to more than one!

Now, stop reading this and go get yourself a group...