How to set up a writers’ group that works
3.5 (1 rating)
Course Ratings are calculated from individual students’ ratings and a variety of other signals, like age of rating and reliability, to ensure that they reflect course quality fairly and accurately.
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How to set up a writers’ group that works

Avoid the pitfalls inherent in setting up a writing group and ensure your group suits your needs and preferences.
3.5 (1 rating)
Course Ratings are calculated from individual students’ ratings and a variety of other signals, like age of rating and reliability, to ensure that they reflect course quality fairly and accurately.
17 students enrolled
Created by Gwyneth Box
Last updated 5/2018
Current price: $13.99 Original price: $19.99 Discount: 30% off
5 hours left at this price!
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This course includes
  • 1.5 hours on-demand video
  • 1 downloadable resource
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Certificate of Completion
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What you'll learn
  • At the end of the course, students will have an appreciaction of the range of focus and scope of writing groups and understand the factors involved in setting up and running a successful writing group.
  • Students will be informed and prepared to set up their own group to suit their own needs.
  • Students should be interested in creative writing and/or language.
  • No previous academic study or qualifications are required.
  • Students should have at least an intermediate level of English.

Writing can be a lonely activity and one of the best things a writer can do, both to combat this isolation and to help with the development and improvement of their writing, is to join a writing group.

But there are many different types of group, with different aims and activities, and there are a lot of potential problems and pitfalls along the way for anyone who decides to set up a new group.

This course is based on my own experience over several decades of belonging to a number of different writing groups, both as organiser and as rank-and-file member. It is intended to give an idea of the range of group formats and focus, to help you avoid the main pitfalls of organisation and admin, and, above all, to make sure that the group you set up meets your needs as a writer.

During the course, we will take a look at a range of group activities, with particular emphasis on sharing work and giving and receiving feedback.

Wherever you are in your writing career, belonging to a writing group can be beneficial: whether you use it to share your own work, collaborate with others, hone your editorial skills, share market information, or simply as a social group, a good group will foster an atmosphere of mutual assistance and allow all the members to improve as writers.

Not all writing groups are the same and it’s important to find one – or to create one – that works for you.

NOTE: In addition to the course video lectures, the bonus class includes a downloadable PDF of my book "Writing in Circles: a writers' group handbook", described by one Amazon reviewer as “a valuable resource for organisers and members of writing groups” that gives “sound advice with humour and an abundance of goodwill.” 

The book includes some of the material covered in the course as well as additional material that looks more specifically at group activities and also at the critique process.

Who this course is for:
  • Writers of all genres who think they would benefit from peer support via a writers’ group, especially those who have so far failed to find a group that works for them.
  • Organisers and members of established writing groups who wish to review their current dynamic and activites.
Course content
Expand all 14 lectures 01:30:51
+ Introduction
2 lectures 07:56
We start with an introduction to the tutor and a general overview of the course.
Preview 02:35

We take a look at what writers’ groups are all about, and the different motivations and expectations behind attending one. We consider the different activities that may be included and why you might prefer to set up your own group.

Preview 05:21
+ Organisation, infrastructure, communications and rules
4 lectures 26:21

While an established group may take on a life of its own, some kind of infrastructure and organisation will be needed for a new group.

Preview 01:36

For a group to work, the organisers need to be able to communicate with exisiting members, new members need to be able to make enquiries and existing members may want to be able to get in touch with each other. We look at different ways of organising communications and the corresponding pros and cons.


Unless yours is an online group, there will be actual meetings. The choice of venue plays a big part in how meetings are run and how the group works.

The venue

Frequency of meetings, regular attendance and a sense of commitment play important roles in establishing relationships between members and in providing a sense of continuity and progress.

Timings: schedule, meeting duration & frequency, punctuality & attendance
+ Group membership
3 lectures 20:02

The people who attend the meetings will end up making the group what it is – and make it work or fail , so you need to be clear about who is allowed to join and what they will need to do to remain a member.

Preview 02:08

Eligibility criteria and membership requirements.

Who are the group members?

Does everyone in a writing group have to actually be a writer? How much and how often should they produce new work?

What do your members write?
+ Feedback, comments & critique
3 lectures 33:05

Your group may do lots of different activities but the one that usually causes the most problems is critique, so here we take a close look at that.

Why focus on criticism

First of all, the actual organisation of comments – the when and the how of feedback.

Organisation of feedback

Critique, criticism, critical comments… this can feel quite negative, so here we’ll look at some ways to make it less painful.

Criticism: best practice
+ Conclusion
1 lecture 02:11

Summing up and looking ahead.

What’s next?
+ Bonus section
1 lecture 01:16

Gwyneth Box's book Writing in Circles complements this course and offers further resources.

Writing in Circles