Rules For A Writing Group

The rules for a writing group depend very much on the group. Here are the rules for a writing group I've used with success.

  1. Writers cannot make excuses for their writing. For example, it's against the rules to begin with, "This isn't really any good." Respect your own work and let the work stand or fall.

  2. Sidebar: One of my most powerful experiences as a writer came in a workshop by Susan Musgrave. She put her coffee cup on the table in front of her and said, "Anyone who begins with an excuse puts a quarter into the cup." Only one of us caved in to the temptation to whine, but most of us were biting our lips.

  3. Allow critique to go unchallenged. When someone gives feedback, the writer says nothing until everyone has had a chance to give critique. Once it's all over, the writer can, if (s)he wants, answer questions, or explain bits.
  4. What is shared in this group stays in this group. No sharing of the material or discussion elsewhere.
  5. We will review our guidelines each time a new member joins and at least once per year. New members receive a written copy of the rules.
  6. Membership is a privilege. New members can come to one meeting at the invitation of a current member. Current members will decide together whether to extend an invitation to join the group. If anyone has doubts that cannot be satisfied, there will be no invitation. A bad apple can send others packing.

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