A common question I’m asked is “Are you in a writer’s group?” I’m not, which is not the answer someone is usually seeking. Even though I’m part of a few groups online Backspace, Women’s Fiction Writers Association, and Writer Unboxed on Facebook, in addition to my treasured Book Pregnant tribe, and have in-real-life writer friends with whom I can
drink wine, kvetch, eat chocolate, hang out on the beach talk about writing and publishing and share my work, I’m not part of a group that gathers in a meeting room for the express purpose of talking about or sharing writing on a regular basis.
So when Joanne Tailele offered to write a guest post for WFW on how and why she is the president of her local writer’s group, I knew that post was the perfect fit!
Are you part of a writer’s group? Give us the info in the comments! If it’s a group at maximum capacity, or only for urban fantasy writers who are over 5’5″ and live in Idaho, share a little about the group anyway. We’d love to know how and why it started and if it works!
Please welcome Joanne Tailele to Women’s Fiction Writers!
Why I Lead A Writer’s Group
by Joanne Tailele
Writing can be a lonely profession. We hunker down in front of our computers with only our characters as friends. That is fine, but when we come up for air, we need the camaraderie of other writers to spur us along, to encourage us, and to share the ups and downs of writing with us.
That is why I lead a local writers group called Marco Island Writers Inc.
I can’t take credit for creating the group. A wonderful lady by the name of Gwen DeCrow is the founder. First, her story.
In the spring of 2011, as Marco Island resident and writer Gwen DeCrow was writing her first book, she felt the need for some direction and encouragement from other experienced writers. Knowing that the island has a creative heartbeat, she decided to try to form a small group of writers.
Gwen distributed flyers to area businesses and the library and asked editors of local newspapers to include the information in their clubs and organizations listings announcing the formation of the monthly Marco Writers Networking Group.
With approval from the local library, a meeting room was reserved and two people attended the first monthly meeting.
More marketing of the group and word of mouth led to two different people attending the July 2011 meeting. In the meantime, the publicity was seen around town and Gwen started getting phone calls of interest and email contacts. She started an email distribution list notifying “members” of upcoming meetings and speakers.
On a rainy third meeting night in August 2011, nine people attended and extra chairs were gathered for the diverse, enthusiastic writers. A special guest speaker, a New York Bestselling author was scheduled for September in a larger room at the library and the group was on its way, with a request by members for a longer meeting time.
The October meeting was held at the group’s new home, a local bank’s community room. The group continued to grow to sixty members on the list and thirty attending monthly through “season” and the group held its two year anniversary in June 2013.
Next, is my story.
I joined Marco Writers in October 2011. As the group continued to grow, Gwen’s responsibilities at her day job made it impossible for her to continue as president. Another writer and I agreed to co-chair the group, starting on its anniversary in June. By now the contact list had grown to over eighty people.
Shortly into my tenure as co-chair, my partner also had to back out. Since then I have been the president of Marco Writers Inc.
Many things have happened and the group continues to grow.
- We now take membership dues – $40 annual membership. This helps to pay some of our speakers and for supplies. We have a “first time FREE” policy so new writers can decide if this is something they are interested in. We also have the option for people to pay $10 at the door for repeat attendees that are not here year round and do not want an annual membership (We are a very seasonal island with a lot of snow birds.)
- We became incorporated and are working toward getting our non-profit status
- We are incorporating a college internship program and have received grant money through AAUW (American Association of University Women)
- We have a thirty minute time period during each meeting for our members can network with each other. Many times, this continues out in the parking lot after the meeting. Our members don’t ever want to leave. LOL
- Our local library has given us a display case to feature our local writers and promote our annual event.
- With the “Friends of the Library”, we have initiated a writing contest for the public.
- With a planning committee of six people, our meetings are scheduled a year in advance. We alternate speakers to include inspirational, education, technology, marketing etc. During our “off-season” months, our own members share their experiences in writing and publication.
- Every other month, we do an exercise in “Flash Fiction” which is a huge hit.
- The alternating months we offer a very brief technology tips class for those less technically inclined.
- Using personal bios of our members, we match up writers for one-on-one feedback and critique of their WIP (Work in Progress). Note: We attempted to do this during the meetings, but discovered that the time allotted was not enough to give any valuable feedback to our writers.
- Our big annual event is AuthorFest, which is an open to the public promoting our books to sell. Last year, in Feb. 2013, we had 30 participating authors and 200 attendees. This year’s event is March 8, and we have 40 local authors and expect attendance to exceed last year.
- We have a website to promote our group and our books. www.marcoislandwriters.com
- Monthly newsletters keep our readers (now 148 strong) abreast of what is happening with Marco Writers.
To say that we are busy is an understatement. This could be a full time job for me. It is a wonderful group of writers from many different skill levels and genres. We have writers that have only dreamed of writing and we have both traditional and self-published authors who are quite successful. The energy from networking with each other encourages us to keep moving forward in our careers. Our motto, “Writers Helping Writers” is true. We are in this together. I can vouch that without the encouragement and support of this group, I doubt I would have completed my second book, or would have continued to work on my third.
I have had the privilege to belong to three different writers groups: Writer’s Village University, Marco Island Writers Inc., and Women’s Fiction Writers Association. Each one brings something different to the writing table. My advice to new and seasoned writers alike, is to run, not walk, to a networking group of other writers, whether it be online or in person.
My second piece of advice it to ignore that negative little devil sitting on your shoulder that laughs at you and says, “Are you crazy? You can’t write. You’re terrible. This is nothing but crap.” That same little devil sits on every writer’s shoulder and he is a liar. Yes, we have a lot to learn. Yes, we are constantly improving. But, repeat after me, “I am a writer.”
Say it until you believe it.
Then tell the world.