The Writing Group I Wish I Had
I don’t know any writers at my level.
Which is to say, I know a fair few who don’t have time or inclination to get down in the muck with a little tadpole like me, and I also know a lot of folks who wish they wrote half as much as I do.
I’m caught between casual and pro, and struggling to take the next steps. And in this interstitial hell, I find myself wishing I were part of small group of writers with some topical overlap, habit parity, and an eye for mutual growth.
So here’s the writing group I wish I were part of.
- 4–6 committed members who write every day. Preferably, these folks are broad-minded, low-dogma, and interested in broadly improving living conditions here on earth.
- A daily slack “stand-up”. When you start your work day, you state your 1–3 goals for the day. Then you report when you’ve achieved them. If you don’t report, the group notices. If you don’t complete, someone in the group investigates with 5-Whys. If your tasks don’t progress like you want, the group investigates with 5-Whys. Nobody cares if you miss a day, but if you’re not keeping up with this, you’re gone from the group. This is for accountability and forward progress.
- Fast feedback. Because everybody’s a writer doing writerly things, and because responsibility is distributed, members of the group can expect to get some fast feedback on a piece or idea. Fast feedback is brief, coarse, and interrogative.
- Kind > Nice. The writers in this group recognize that good information is more important than placid relationships, and are willing to deliver honest feedback even if it ruffles feathers. They also put effort into delivering ‘negatives’ in a kind way. Of course honesty works a lot better if the people in the group actually like each other, so side-conversations and the occasional off-topic post are encouraged
- Hot-Seat. Once a week, we meet on the phone or skype for 45 mins. In that time, we do two mediated hot-seat sessions, each lasting 20 minutes. Each hot-seat is scheduled, and 3 days in advance the writer submits 1k-3k worth of writing that they want to focus on. This is an exposure-to-criticism exercise, as well as a platform for actual skill-building. Each hotseat is moderated by a rotating member of the group who’s main job is to keep people on track. No long tangents! Keep it about the work.
- Speak well of each other. The members of the group should have enough overlap as to be able to help each other reach new readers, and an inclination to do so.
That’s it. That’s the writing group I wish I was part of. I’ve had elements of this in different writing groups in the past, but never all of it at once. I think it would be rad.
If you’re interested in forming a group like this, definitely let me know. Or how would your ideal writing group be different than this?