Below are some of the basic kinds of writing groups. They are listed to help you refine what you are looking for. Each group has a core activity---writing, critiquing, discussing, or checking in. What makes the most sense for you given your goals and situation?
If you are looking to join a group, this should help you narrow down the choices. If you are looking to start another group, use these as general templates and don’t be afraid to cross boundaries. Create what works for you and your members.
In writing practice groups, the core activity is writing. Members physically sit down at a coffee shop or library and simply write. They don’t talk or check their phones. They just write.
Some groups use writing prompts to guide the sessions. In these, writers may have the option to share their writing at the end. In other groups, the focus is purely writing and members use the time to work on independent projects.
Having an agreed upon time and space lets these writers carve out time for their writing and be accountable to each other. As they continue attending the meetings and get to know the faces, writers in these groups also gain the support of a writing community.
One popular example of this sort of group is called Shut Up & Write. There are many MeetUp examples of these groups throughout the country.
In critique groups, writers come together to share manuscripts and exchange feedback. As members get to know each other, writerly discussions, support and friendship build around the core purpose of critique.
Many critique groups follow the workshop model. The manuscript is read and members give critique. During that time, the author may not make comments. After all critiques are given, the author may ask questions to clarify the critique, but he may not defend or explain the writing. This is the format we follow with Inked Voices through a critique period and a review period.
Groups can meet in person or online. In person and online formats will be discussed in detail later, under Critique Group Formats and Tools
In these groups, the main activity is discussion or conversation.
Groups sticking to the professional side of things may discuss book launches, marketing and the industry. They may discuss questions members are facing—figuring out an issue with a manuscript, finding the right agent or perfecting a query letter. They can be sources of encouragement during tough times. Writers can find groups like these online through LinkedIn and Facebook and in-person through a writers association, MeetUp or by advertising at a bookstore or library.
Other groups have more of a social bent. Writers get drinks or sit together at a café and the conversation leads where it will, writing or otherwise.
Similar to “just write”, these groups focus on getting their members writing. Instead of writing at the meeting, though, members write independently and the meeting functions as a deadline.
At in-person groups, writers could read and share their work. Or, they could report on their writing progress and then move on to discussion.
These groups can also run with minimal logistics online. Writers set a word count goal and report to one another whether they met it. Members encourage each other to keep writing and meet their word count goals.