Mickey Goodman in Atlanta has learned how to create and manage an active community writing group:
“Being chosen to head an ASJA chapter is easy. Just head for the ladies’ room. When you return, you’ve been elected president (for life). The challenge is keeping the group active and relevant. It all depends on member participation.”
It’s a lot of work, let’s not kid ourselves. It takes a big commitment on the part of the President and of every single member to make it a point of contributing and being there all the time.
What you want to do with your group–how you focus the time and meetings–is up to you. Having professionals come to speak is very helpful, but you also need time to share among yourselves what you’re writing, how it’s going, getting feedback from each other. You want to celebrate individual member achievements and milestones, as well as help each other through inevitable disappointments and setbacks.
Mickey says “Our meetings, which take place monthly at the same time and place, are well attended. Phone calls, e-mail, and Facebook notices on our private ASJA-SE page are frequent. When members don’t show up for two or more meetings, someone will usually call or mail—out of genuine concern—to find out why. We hope no one feels neglected or alone.”
As an author’s consultant, I always enjoy talking to a serious writer’s group. They have practical questions and challenging issues to address. With almost three decades of experience, I can offer perspective and suggestions on particular aspects of publishing. Mickey says for her group, “In 2014, we’ve already heard from a CPA talking about tax deductions for journalists, a program arranged by Karon Warren, and we’re planning a discussion on journalism ethics using the best-seller Five Days at Memorial as our guide. A talk by a literary attorney is also in the works, as well as a hands-on workshop with developers of Publisheze, a hybrid of Print on Demand and traditional publishing.” read more
If you cannot find a good-fitting group in your area, start one. Create what you need. Nathan Kressen of Nook Press offers excellent tips on starting a group. And Emily Wenstrom has some practical advice with her 5 Tips.