Starting a writers’ group can be a tough job. Once you’ve begun, it may take a while to catch on. Members will come and go. You’ll have to deal with spotty attendance—especially at first. Sometimes, you might be the only one who shows up for a meeting! This happened to me a few times at the outset, before the group I founded, Wild Women Writing, really took off. I felt like I’d been stood up on a date—but I didn’t give up. It only made me more determined to succeed.
Molly Anderson-Childers is a writer, artist,
creativity consultant, and photographer in Colorado.
(In fact, this photo is of her hands!)
Her work has appeared locally and nationally in
print publications, and can be found online at
creativity-portal.com and ediblesanjuanmountains.com,
to name a few. She blogs at Addictive Fiction
and Stealing Plums, and is currently working
on a novel. Her e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.
If this happens to you, persevere. When you’re the only one to show up for a meeting, don’t panic-simply use the time to work on a project of your own. It’s normal for a group to take several months to gel, so be patient, and don’t get discouraged. Stay true to your vision for the group. Supporting other writers—especially beginners- is important work. It matters. If it makes a difference in the life of one fledgling writer, it’s worth all the effort.
My advice? Advertise meetings in the local paper, and tell everyone you know. Put some energy into finding new members. Now, Wild Women Writing is in its second year, and we’re still growing. We’ve created a community of laughing, wildly scribbling women who are passionate about their work and committed to the group. One young mom, with a wicked sense of humor, recently emailed me to RSVP for a meeting with the message, “I’ll be there, even if I have to sell the children.” If you’re eager to see your writers’ group grow and blossom, read on!
1. Connect with other writers at local events—including conferences, workshops, classes, poetry slams, and open mike nights. Let them know you what you liked about their work, and invite them to join.
2. Encourage members of the group to spread the word, and invite them to bring along interested friends to the next meeting.
3. Host a special guest. Hold an open house, poetry reading, or writing workshop, and show your stuff. Getting the word out about your group will inspire new members to join.
4. Start a blog and connect with other writers online. I recommend www.blogger.com—it’s easy to use, even if you’re not tech-savvy. Create a page for bios, and share your work with a wider audience.
5. Post fliers at your favorite bookshops and the library, giving details of your next meeting. (Writers love to read!) Put them up at coffee-shops, in galleries, or on a bulletin board for the English department at a local college- anywhere writers congregate.
6. Contact local book groups, and ask to speak at a meeting. Or, send them a few fliers, or an email to distribute to the group.
7. Maintain open meetings for the first six months to a year. Accept new members until you have a core of regular attendees. Closing a group to new members too soon can be a real mistake.
Still floundering? Ask the members of your group for help. Maybe they have a few ideas of their own about ways to grow your group. This will create ownership, and accountability. When they feel that the group is theirs, they’ll be more prone to help it blossom.
By allowing the members of the group to help, and taking them into your confidence when things aren’t going so well, you reveal yourself as—gasp!— human. You stumble at times, just like they do. Sharing your failures and successes is important in the process of cementing the group’s bond, which will grow stronger as you work to solve problems together. Before you know it, your writers’ group will bloom and blossom in unexpected ways, growing wild in The Garden of Dreams.