You decided to make a writing group, but you want to make sure it does what it’s supposed to do. That it’s a safe space for writers to express themselves and improve in their craft. So you need ground rules for your writing group for it to function well without complications.
Having the right writing group rules will help your members know what’s expected of them. This helps your group and all involved to succeed. Here are some rules that the best writing groups abide by.
Respect One Another
One of the best things about writing groups is that they bring people together from all walks of life. Members come from various backgrounds with different interests and perspectives. With this variety, everyone can meet people with differing points of view.
As such, it’s vital to have mutual respect within the group. This creates an open, supportive, and positive environment for all members. This requires everyone to listen and be understanding. This is not a place to force opinions on others. It’s a place to point out strengths and weaknesses in writing so all get better.
While every individual has unique experiences of the world, don’t forget that what brought you together in the group: a shared passion for writing. Don’t let other things weigh your group down and ruin things.
Give Feedback in a Considerate Way
Most writing groups like to focus on positive aspects when providing feedback. Although this helps create a bond between members, constant positivity doesn’t build better writers. In fact, it can hold back writers from learning and improving their skill.
So don’t be afraid of offering creative criticism. This allows members to grow and learn.
Remember, the primary goal of feedback is helping your fellow writer. So offer the critique in a way they understand. Get to know the other members and give feedback in a way they appreciate. Be sensitive that you don’t come off as harsh.
Keep Work Inside the Group
What happens in your writing group stays in your writing group. No matter how much you love or hate someone’s work, don’t share it outside of the group unless you have permission. This is a crucial way to demonstrate respect for other members.
Many people can be nervous and uncomfortable about sharing their work, especially if it’s their first time. Respect that and only share it outside of the group with the writer’s permission.
Don’t Take Criticism Personally
When creating rules for your writing group, remember the purpose of the group. It’s not to insult each other’s work. It’s to help each other improve. Members should learn to receive criticism in a way that allows them to learn and grow as a writer. They should consider feedback carefully to know what is useful and relevant and what’s just someone’s opinion.
Feedback is meant to help writers improve—not get them upset. Once your group members learn not to take criticism personally, they’ll be better able to see their writing better through the eyes of others. This provides them insight into how their readers will possibly respond to their work. The end result: better first drafts. Better character development. Better stories.
Like any relationship, a writing group requires enough attention for it to function. Members should do their part by attending regularly, being respectful and supportive to others, and providing feedback when needed.
The presence and input of all members is essential in the writing group. Every individual is a part of a greater whole and their contribution, no matter how subtle, is invaluable.
While we can’t be part of your writing group, Argyle Fox Publishing is here to help. When your writing group gives your manuscript the thumbs-up, submit your book to take the next step toward become a published author. In the meantime, here’s to creating great rules for your writing group.