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Our group is primarily a critique and support group that usually meets once a month excepting summer months and other times of the year when the meeting conflicts with other things. It's an informal situation where we try to meet, but sometimes just decide not to. We each pay membership dues of $11 per year.
Each meeting consists of a bit of social chat during which we talk about what we've been working on and if we've gotten anything published since the last meeting. Then, works submitted by members are read to be critiqued by those who are present at the meeting. Sometimes this is in the context of a contest where favorites are voted on and the winners receive small cash prizes. That's essentially all we ever do.
Since I've joined we've seen a few younger folks drop in to see what we are about. They might return for another meeting or two, but then we don't see them again. Our group is obviously not creating enough of a draw to attract a significant number of new potential members and enough appeal to hang on to the ones who are curious enough to see what we are doing.
We obviously need to do something different if we want to keep the group alive. In this post I'm turning to you readers for advice. If you are a part of an active group (not necessarily a writers group), what does your group do? What would appeal to you if you were looking for a group?
Here are some thoughts:
What do you want from a writers group?
- Speakers --other writers, people with interesting stories or occupations, agents, teachers, etc.
- Workshops--Paid? Free? Taught by someone within the group? Let by a professional in some particular field? What kind of topics?
- Support--Guidance and networking to get your work published.
- Meals--Should a meeting be held at a restaurant and include a meal?
- Refreshments--If held in a suitable location should light refreshments and beverages be available?
- Critique sessions--Several entries discussed or more focus on just a few each meeting?
- Social activities--Directed discussions on selected books or movies, debates, outings or excursions, or other group events?
- Contests--Submitted writing for special writing contests such as poetry, memoir, fiction, etc with cash or other prizes?
- Strong leadership--Active membership drives and outreaches
- Online presence--Should a group have an active blog or website? What should that site include to be of most benefit to members while acting as a promotional tool to gain new members?
- Meeting time--Is a weeknight better or is a weekend day preferred. More than once per month?
- Location--What type of meeting place is best? How far are you willing to go to attend a writers meeting?
- Dues--How much is too much? What should you get from your dues?
- Club publications--Would you be interested in yearly or occasional group anthologies that would include contributions from each member? Would you be drawn to a club that guaranteed that you the participating writer would be seeing your work in print?
I'm looking for feedback from you no matter what experience you've had with this sort of thing. Any idea is worth considering so please don't hold back. Please let me know in the comments section your thoughts on the questions and ideas I've outlined above. Or add your own ideas if you think of something else. I'd like to be part of a vital group that adds something to my writing life.
A big thank you to all!