Dave's picture
Dave from a city near you is reading constantly February 4, 2012 - 11:20pm

Anybody here belong to a writer's meetup or workshop, you know, where you actually meet face to face?  There's several in the nearest big city that I've debated participating in, but honestly I'm just lazy, and don't want to have to clear it with the wife, justify child care, drive to and from, whatever.  It'd be like getting a bill through Congress and the House.

On the other hand, I think it would be fairly rewarding to have actual one on one face time with other writers, and develop a local network of creative people.

Then I thought of starting my own, in the town I live in.  Though I may be surprised, I can't find any indication there are any other professed writers in my town.

So what are y'alls opinions or experiences.

Jose F. Diaz's picture
Jose F. Diaz from Boston is reading Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel February 5, 2012 - 11:16am

I think it's an awesome idea. You may not get as many people as you would like, but I think you could encourage some youngsters to maybe start taking the craft a little more serious. They could definitely give you some fresh ideas to think about.

But just like any other task in this life, you need to have consistency. The first time you don't show up or aren't prepared it could really hinder the dynamic of a group that is newly formed. During the summer I plan on finding a group here in Baltimore. Good luck with which ever you decide.

Kirk's picture
Admin
Kirk from Pingree Grove, IL is reading The Book Of The New Sun February 5, 2012 - 11:50am

I personally belong to, attend, and co-manage meet-up groups. Though my groups are typically more related to programming, open-source software and design, I can tell you they are a great source.

You certainly can start your own, and I'll give you a few ideas.

1. Create an agenda that you follow every single meeting. The repetition really helps the flow, especially since you will end up with a core group who attends nearly every time. This makes the floaters feel like you're organized.

2. Pick a day of the month and stick to it. The group I run meets every 3rd Wednesday of the month. Knowing when each meetup is going to happen really helps. Don't blow them off, even if only 2 other people respond.

3. Even though you town isn't represented, I would suggest against naming after your town. For instance, I live in a town called Pingree Grove. The "Pingree Grove Writers Meetup" sounds good, except a hell of a lot of people don't know where Pingree Grove is. Instead, I would go with a local-term. In my case "Fox Valley Writers Group" because everyone who lives out there knows that is how we describe towns in the Fox River Valley. 

4. Find a good place to meet. The best meetups I attend happen in a local bar. Don't discount bar/pubs. Especially if they have a party room or separate area you can use. If you plan to meet on an off-night, they will probably let you use the space for no charge and then you just encourage your guests to buy some food or drinks to support your hosts. A library might seem like a great place to meet, but based on the audience you are interested in attracting, it might be way off.

Beyond that, put a lot of effort into the networking aspect of it. I can't believe the amount of cool people I know because of the groups I do. Not to mention the amount of work that changes hands in these groups. Everyone wins.

R.Moon's picture
R.Moon from The City of Champions is reading The Last Thing He Wanted by Joan Didion; Story Structure Architect by Victoria Lynn Schimdt PH.D; Creating Characters by the editors of Writer's Digest February 5, 2012 - 5:39pm

I belong to one here in Pittsburgh and it's been instrumental in my development as a writer. The group meets once a month and is critique based. Every month two or three people submit a piece of work to be critiqued. Each member brings their critique to the meeting and we go around the table discussing our reviews. It's nice to have face to face contact with others and to have a network of writers within the city you live in. Plus, you'll get different pesonalities writing in different genres, giving you advice from a wide range of styles. My only complaint about the group I belong to is that the critques aren't as in depth as I've found on here. But, we have an eclectic group of outstanding writers who genuinely care about each other's writing endeavors. I would highly recommend either joining one or starting one in your city. Kirk gave you some excellent ideas to start with.

Dave's picture
Dave from a city near you is reading constantly February 5, 2012 - 6:33pm

Thanks for the input, all. I'm a member if two small business networking groups which are polar opposites. One we all just meet and talk shop, the other is very structured with certain times and time lengths devoted to certain activities with little or no flexibility. I see weekly the strengths and weaknesses of each approach. This is initially what got me looking for local writers groups.

The library in my town is, well...more of a place townies go to use the internet rather than read or embrace written language. Naturally it was the first place I checked, and I dont recall even seeing any bookclubs. The city is building a massive new facility so Im hopeful with the added space and content the horizons may broaden. This is also why Im contemplating starting up my own group, taking advantage of the new place and space as early as possible.

@Kirk, great tips. Both networkin groups im with continue to struggle with their names (after the town and county, respectively). The creative networking is one of the more important aspects, to me, of such an endeavor.

So, my next question would be do any of you have any suggestions as to how to start up? An ad on craigslist or in the paper? Facebook or create something on Meetup.com?

R.Moon's picture
R.Moon from The City of Champions is reading The Last Thing He Wanted by Joan Didion; Story Structure Architect by Victoria Lynn Schimdt PH.D; Creating Characters by the editors of Writer's Digest February 5, 2012 - 6:45pm

I've never started one, but if I was going to, I'd probably go with all of the above. Place a notice in the library, too.

avery of the dead's picture
avery of the dead from Kentucky is reading Cipher Sisters February 5, 2012 - 6:48pm

Dave - if you are close to any colleges or Universities you might put up a flyer in the Student Center, or post something on their campus Facebook.  Or call the head of the English department.  Some faculty might be interested as well.

R.Moon's picture
R.Moon from The City of Champions is reading The Last Thing He Wanted by Joan Didion; Story Structure Architect by Victoria Lynn Schimdt PH.D; Creating Characters by the editors of Writer's Digest February 5, 2012 - 6:50pm

I could ask the girl who started the one I belong to how she started it...

Jason C's picture
Jason C from Quad Cities, Iowa is reading Growing Up Dead In Texas by Stephen Graham Jones February 5, 2012 - 7:51pm

You could also utilize a website like this.

 

http://writing.meetup.com/

Dave's picture
Dave from a city near you is reading constantly February 6, 2012 - 12:18am

@Avery, good idea, I hadn't thought of tapping the universities

@Rian/Ryan  Yes please, that would be great.

@Jason, that's the site I was referring to...nothing close enough to me to be worth my while, or rather that wouldn't be a huge production.

 

Jason C's picture
Jason C from Quad Cities, Iowa is reading Growing Up Dead In Texas by Stephen Graham Jones February 6, 2012 - 12:26am

Ah yeah, didn't see that last sentence. But I'd start something there and see if you can attract more writers like yourself.

Also, maybe post a flyer at some coffee shops as well.

Dave's picture
Dave from a city near you is reading constantly February 6, 2012 - 12:54am

Yeah, looking at all the members of the meetups near me, there's literally hundreds and hundreds.  I'm betting if some of them are willing to deal with making a writers meetup and dealing with the big city headaches, they'd drive a little ways out of town for another minues all the traffic and parking BS.

We'll see.  I am going to start a new one on Meetup and see what kind of response I get. 

Kirk's picture
Admin
Kirk from Pingree Grove, IL is reading The Book Of The New Sun February 6, 2012 - 7:47am

Meetup is the best way to organize, in my opinion. They have all the tools you need to run a group and when you create the group, it will automagically notify nearby users who have identified "writing" as an interest they have.

Utah's picture
Moderator
Utah from Fort Worth, TX is reading Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry February 6, 2012 - 10:12am

Dave, are you closer to Ft. Worth or Dall-ass?  I know there are some groups over here on the west side of the metro that are pretty popular.

Dave's picture
Dave from a city near you is reading constantly February 6, 2012 - 12:04pm

@Utah, Sadly, no...I went to HS north of Denton, I love and miss the metroplex!  I'm down south of Austin, which has a ton of groups, and some good ones I'd bet with UT there, but what with Austin's traffic and such I try to avoid it altogether.

I'd also have thought that with Texas State in San Marcos there might be something there, but no.  Not that I can find anyway.  I can drive to San Antonio or Austin, neither of which really appeals.