April 12, 2010 | By: Tracy

Writers Groups: To Join or Not To Join?

I kinda failed on my promise to get around to see everyone this weekend. A three game losing streak by the Orioles & some nonessential - yet tiring - drama in my "normal" routine made a liar out of me. Such is my life.

Okay, so today's post: I really don't get the full purpose of writers groups.

There are so many out there. From the biggies that are attached to a specific genre, like the RWA (Romance Writers Association) to the regional groups established to help writings in a specific area, like the Maryland Writers Association.

I have yet to join any group, because I'm not really sure I need to. The cost of annual membership for most of them is relatively small, so it isn't a money situation that's kept me from jumping in. I honestly don't know what the benefits are & if they're really worth it.  If I'm not the kind of person who enjoys going to monthly meetings, and I'm not actively looking for a critique group is there still a point to it? Do agents & publishers think more highly of those with a membership than those without?
I'm not being snooty or derogatory when I ask what the point is, I'm genuinely curious!

So I guess I'm asking you all. Do any of you belong to any sort of officially recognized writing groups? Which one? Do you feel membership has helped make you a better writer? If you aren't already a member, do you plan to become one soon?

16 witty remarks:

Terry Towery said...

I'm not a genre writer, so I don't belong to any writer groups. I guess I could see it if I did write within a narrow genre, for the support if nothing else.

Personally. I find I get more support on writer and agent blogs and in communities like Writers Digest Online than I would in some narrowly defined writers group.

(Cliche alert!) But your mileage may vary. ;)

JustineDell said...

I'm a Pro member of the RWA and I think it has helped. One, you have access to resources that non-members don't have (agents/publisher info), writing contests that are specific to romance and have agents/editors as the judges. They have workshopes, meetings, online stuff that can help you one your journey. I don't partake in those, but I assume they would be very helpful.

The newletter (which is more like a magazine) has helped me more than anything with romance (all sub genres included) articles and such.

Not only that, I've read the agents like to see active membership with this type of thing. Along with the big RWA, each state has their own (sometimes more than one depending on the size of the state) that branches off the RWA so you can do more things locally.

It really is a good resource.


Matthew Rush said...

I don't belong to any groups but I would like to. I don't write romance but I heard that you can join the RWA anyway.

I looked at the SFFWA - I think that's it - Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer Assoc. Anyway you have to be published to join that one.

I haven't really thought about it that much but like Terry I get a lot out of the blogging community.

The Alliterative Allomorph said...

Not a member. I get what I need through the bloggosphere :)

But before I blogged I paid for critiques. I had no other choice being here in Greece. I had to learn somehow :(

Tracy said...

Terry - What if there was like a "Cubs Fans Writers Group", would that make a difference? ;o)

Justine - I was wondering about the RWA, because from all accounts I've heard they are a powerhouse when it comes to organized writers groups. And since right now, my work falls under paranormal romance, I was wondering if I should check them out.

Matthew - I think it's just called SFWA (why they dropped the second 'F', I don't know). I didn't know you had to be a published author already to join them... how elitist! lol

Jessica - I can't imagine how much tougher this road is for someone like you trying to work on an english story in a largely non-english speaking country. Good thing you found the blogosphere!

Terry Towery said...

If there really was a Cubs fan writers group, I'd probably join, which of course would then extend the Curse to my writing career.

What can I say? I'm a glutton for punishment.

Tracy said...

Terry - But then you could just buy a goat and get rid of the curse for your writing career. ;o)

Terry Towery said...

Nah, that whole goat thing is way overblown. I know -- I ate goat meat mixed with blown-up Bartman ball back in 2004 and NOTHING good has happened yet! ;)

BTW, I'm serious.

Shelley Sly said...

Good post -- I've had a lot of the same questions. I'm a romance writer in Maryland, so both of those groups would apply to me. But I wasn't sure what the benefits were exactly. Looks like Justine summed it up nicely.

Hope the Orioles start winning for you!

Shannon said...

Good feedback, Justine.


I'm not a member of any groups, either. It's on my list of things to accomplish.

Sorry about the O's. Hang in there.

Tracy said...

Terry - That last revelation means I'm never likely to accept a dinner invitation at your house!

Shelley - Let me know if you decide to join either. Maybe we can be newbies together. :o)

Shannon - Thanks! I've been here with my O's before. Sadly this is nothing new.

Shelley Sly said...

Dude, I'd love to be a newbie with you! RWA looks a little on the expensive side, at least for where I am financially right now, so I think I'll wait a few months before seriously considering that one. But MWA looks affordable. Who knows, if we both join eventually, maybe we'll run into each other at a conference. :)

KarenG said...


I popped over here from Shelley's blog. Love the baseball pic! As for writer groups, Sol Stein actually discourages writers from joining them, saying they can do more harm than good. (For more on that read his book lol!) Although the writers who love them, really love them. My writer group is here in blog world. I get all the encouragement and motivation I can use here!


Mary McDonald said...

Wait--there's another Cub fan here? I'd join the Cub Fan Writer group! Sign me up! ;-) (and they won their home opener today. This is the year!)

Actually, I'm glad you asked this question. I don't have much to add to the discussion, but the replies have been very helpful. I've been toying with the idea of joining the RWA. My WIP is a Romantic suspense.

ModernDayDrifter said...

I'm not a member of any writing clubs, but I have considered it. You have brought up some interesting questions pertaining to why or why not they are good.

Tracy said...

Shelley - You know, running into each other would be a lot cheaper if we just made a Starbucks writing date sometime, lol. (I didn't realize the RWA cost that much initially!)

KarenG - Thanks. That's kind of what I was thinking, with wondering if they'd cause more harm than good at times.

Mary - Yup, the world of baseball and writing (and Cubs fans, it would seem) come together on my blog ;o)

Jessica - Thanks. I guess I'm one of those ones who's more apt to join if I already know people IN the group.

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