Reality Blog: How to Form an Online Writing Group

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How to Form an Online Writing GroupLast Monday, I attended my online writing group. It’s something I have done every week for the past three years, except for holidays. A friend and I started it together, inviting a few other writers we met at AWAI’s Bootcamp.

The number of members in our writing group has been as high as eight. It’s currently at five, with a sixth member on leave for health issues. Overall, it has been a wonderful, supportive, and caring group. We help one another with encouragement when needed, ideas for projects, and quick CUBA reviews. (CUBA is an acronym for Confusing, Unbelievable, Boring, Awkward.)

I have found my group so supportive and helpful that I thought I’d share with you how we evolved over the three years to become such a strong support for one another.

First of all, let’s define “writing group.”

A writing group is made up of like-minded people with similar goals. In our case, freelance web writers.

If you’re not careful, you can gather a writing group from all over the map. (If you meet online, they can literally be all over the map, but that’s okay.) Having writers with diverse interests, skills, and goals may not be a good fit. You will have to determine what a good fit is for you and your group.

Once that’s established, each person can offer a unique viewpoint to the way you do things, or answer a question, or provide wisdom from their experience. But goals should be clearly laid out that the group can agree on.

Here are some examples:

  • Do you want to meet to offset loneliness? Then a friendly, informal meeting can work.
  • Do you need critiques, CUBA reviews, or other hands-on help? Then it’s a work meeting.
  • Do you want to fast-forward your business goals? Then a mastermind group is the ticket.

Whatever your purpose, you want to be sure that all are on board with it.

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Marianne Foscarini

Helps Christian business owners improve their online presence and increase their customer base and profits through online/website/SEO content marketing and social media presence

6 Comments

  • So glad you found this useful, Reyhan. I’m sure there are many writers that would love to join you. Keep searching and you will find the perfect team. Thanks for your comment.

  • Thank you, Marianne, for a very useful post.

    I want to chime in with some info on my group. I started this group close to two years ago as a peer review group following the Circle of Success peer review model. It was somewhat simple to seek members as you would start asking your fellow members of the COS group. We have since diversified and added others we met at bootcamps.

    However, keeping it going depends on the conviction and dedication of the members you acquire. We are fortunate that our group has thrived well so far and I can see it doing so in the future as well. We meet online once a week. We have adjusted the meeting time once so far based on monitoring attendance data.

    We are using an online meeting software, Anymeeting, which is similar to WebEx. We are just using the free version and it serves us well. We can’t record sessions unless we upgrade, but we can live without it. What we get with this version is the ability to post copy for review without first sending it by email or whatever, so we can capture the gut reaction of the group, a valuable metric. There are a number of features that work well for us with this software.

    We also maintain a parallel Google Group to maintain communication among the group members during the week as needed. However, we minimize this channel of communication to make sure we don’t intrude in anyone’s work week too much.

    It is fair to say that a number of us have benefited from the copy reviews we have conducted, and also what we call accountability phase of the meeting where we discuss our accomplishments of the last week, plans for the next week, and any other request for help.

    Just thought this might help others to ponder ways to use this approach to collective improvement of our skills and business.

  • Venkat, you make some good comments. Love that you have shared with us about your group. Congratulations for keeping it going for so long. Most groups that I’ve come across don’t meet on a weekly basis, but I find they also don’t seem to last too long either if the meetings are too far apart. Building that relationship with your group members is important to maintain good friendship, good help when needed, and emotional support when things get tough.

    Capturing the “gut reaction” is indeed a valuable metric. Do you use the CUBA method? That is a “gut” report. The idea is that you don’t correct, but just state what your gut reaction is … confusing, unbelievable, boring, or awkward. (Of course, we often provide suggestions too, but try to keep it minimal so as to not dip into precious time too much.)

    I haven’t heard of Anymeeting … thanks for sharing that. There are a number of tools anyone can use to set-up online meetings. And most of them have free versions.

  • If anyone starts an online group as a result of this blog, let Wealthy Web Writer know by posting a comment here. It would be fun to hear about it.

  • A timely article that I am sharing now.

    I was invited at 2015 Bootcamp to join such a group. In fact, Venkat’s group.
    I was looking for a Mastermind oriented group. I end up with a copy critique format,
    which I believe is what I need now.

    Following a first meeting, I like:

    – the critique format based on C.U.B.A.
    – the frequency – weekly
    – the size of the group (not more than 6 active members for now)
    – the duration that offers enough time to deeply scrutinized the work submitted
    – the friendly atmosphere is leading to a trusting relationship.

    I look forward to supporting the group, enrich it and grow from it.

    Thank you!

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