Stevie Carroll (stevie_carroll) wrote,
Stevie Carroll

On Writing Groups

Having been out for a meal with my Writers' Group the other night, it's about time I wrote up the discussions from the relevant session of the Hope Valley LitFest last month.

The main questions were 'What makes a good writing group?' and 'How can we get better critiques within our groups?'

From my notes:

Develop a programme that varies between sessions... invite someone in to talk about giving and receiving critiques; get in a range of speakers; assess how the group is currently run, involving all members in the discussion; stress the importance of commitment and of writing between sessions.

One group meets for two hours, of which one hour is spent individually and collectively critiquing one piece, and one hour is spent writing within the group with leadership from one member. Refreshments are an important part of the sessions.

Mixed ability groups can be very exciting. One had a mix of weekly sessions: 'Bring and Share', 'Spotlight', 'Exercises', etc

Another group focuses on writing as therapy: 10 minutes of writing on a previously agreed topic, then reading aloud by those who wish, and discussion of the topic.

Things to find out: does Hampshire have a Literature Officer? Do they produce a newsletter?

Getting more critique within an existing group... suggest that each member give three positive and three not-so-positive comments on each reading; or finish these sentences: 'I particularly liked...' 'I'd like to see more...'; produce/find out guidelines on giving and receiving feedback and on requesting what sort of feedback is wanted; teach writers how to get better at reading their own work; book an author to talk to the group (Simon Beckett was suggested again).

Much food for thought there, although further suggestions are always welcome.
Tags: for reference, on writing, out and about
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