Not all writing groups are created equal, so if you go looking for one, here are four pointers from my most recent stint in one, which has continued some seven years and I hope will continue for a long time to come. I would encourage you to look for a group that:
1. Stays true to the core theme. If the group’s focus is spiritually based writing, for example, then any prospective new members must have the same focus for work that will be brought before the group.
2. Is clear about the intent of any feedback regarding an individual’s work. Successful writing groups are noteworthy for how they encourage writing, first and foremost. Groups that focus on finding and exposing every flaw in the writer’s work will not only trample over the writer’s spirit but surely find themselves eventually disbanding.
3. Accepts only new members who are deeply interested in writing, regardless of the particular form the writing takes. “Deeply interested” means that even though the member is probably not earning his livelihood from his writing, he views his work as much more than just another hobby.
4. Honors each member’s material and schedule. This point ranges from remembering to honor confidentiality to ensuring that reviewers have adequate time to review material before a meeting.
More pointers could be given here, but if you find a writers group that meets these four, you probably have found a good one in which it will be safe to let your writer’s spirit soar.