Five ways to start your own writing group—or crash one

Yes, this is our writing group...if Meryl Streep were a member.

The Restless Writers are often approached by people looking for a writing group to join. For the most part, these writers want what we’ve got—a kick-ass little troop that is supportive, energetic, thoughtful, caring, and hells-to-the-yeah fun.

Here’s what we tell these would-be Restless Writers about finding or starting a group of their own:

Dear [Would-be Restless Writer]:

The Restless Writers are a group of three women who get together in person on a semi-regular basis to share and critique pages, act as sounding boards for new ideas, kvetch about our husbands, and drink wine. We think we’re a collective hoot. We think we make each other better writers. 

We love meeting people like us who write and live and tear out their hair trying to do both well. However, we’re not really a formal writing group with rules and deadlines and firm meeting dates, which makes us irritating as hell if you’re looking for structure.

Trying to find a writing group can be like online dating, except with a greater chance of hooking up with sociopaths. You want to find people who have good writing skills, creativity, passion, joy, and intuition. Plus great hair and awesome personalities. We were lucky.

Here are five ways to find a writing group you can call your own:

1) Check out and subscribe to Brian Henry’s e-newsletter (and sign up for one of his workshops too if you’re in Ontario). You could place a call-out in his newsletter for writing peeps in your area. Note: This worked for us.

2) Make friends with an independent bookstore in your neighbourhood. We’re lucky to have A Different Drummer Books and Bryan Prince Bookseller close by, both with plenty of events throughout the year to enjoy and meet other writers at. Even the big-box booksellers have events.

3) Your local library is a great resource—attend a reading, enter a writing contest, or talk to a librarian to see if they know of a local group.

4) Keep an eye on your community newspaper for announcements about writing events. You may even find an article about a certain Restless Writer who was recently interviewed… (ahem, it’s Beckie! As soon as it’s online we’ll pressure her to post the link.).

5) Talk to people! You’ll never know if your co-worker’s husband’s best friend is a writer who’s also looking for a writing group…unless you ask. Shelve your shyness and mingle!

We wish you the best of luck at finding a super-supportive writing group that helps you be the best writer you can be.



Filed under Group meetings, Inspiration, Life and stuff, Starting up

8 responses to “Five ways to start your own writing group—or crash one

  1. Excellent ideas! I would love to have a local writing group, but live about 30 minutes from town so it’s difficult. Some things are worth the challenge though, right?

    • Absolutely worth the challenge, worth the effort. Having a support group for writing (and life—because it’s all interconnected), makes for a lovely long-term relationship. I love my restless writers.

    • Maria McDonald

      It’s defintiely worth it! And remember, there are plenty of online communities for writers as well. If you’re a Canuck, is a fun and engaging space for writers too. Getting to know other writers by commenting on blog posts and sharing your highs, lows and challenges that way will help you feel connected.

  2. I’m not even sure I’d be a writer without my writing group. I certainly wouldn’t be agented! Here’s to finding those connections…

  3. Great post, Maria. As the Restless Writers were forming I spoke with a few people looking for a writer to join their groups. If I’d gone with any of them, I wouldn’t be where I am with my writing today. It’s like finding a man or a good melon: you just know when you have your hands around the right one 😉

  4. Elena Aitken

    Awesome post! Finding a great writing group is very much like finding a good melon, oh and ya…a man too. (great analogy, Lori.)
    I know without a doubt that I would not be where I am as a writer or as a person, (Are they different things??) Without my Wordbitches and the Easy Writers.
    Oh, and for Neeks that commented above. I live about 30 minutes out of town. And it used to take me anywhere from 45 – 60 min to get to our group (until they moved it closer to me!) I made the drive twice a month even in brutal snow storms, for almost three years. SO worth it! Best decision I ever made. You won’t regret it.

  5. I suck at picking out good melons.
    But the husband’s pretty good.

    So I guess I’ve got a 50/50 shot at working out a successful writer’s group.
    (Oh wait. My hair isn’t very good. So now I’ve dropped to, like, 25%.)

    Still. I’d better try anyway, I suppose.

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