Starting a writers’ group

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I’m the founder of a writers’ group in Salt Lake City that has 534 members called Just Write: Salt Lake City. Using Meet Up it was pretty easy to create the group and drum up interest for our one hour focused writing sessions. I wanted, though, to cover some of the trickier aspects of creating a writers’ group.

First, a little bit about me. I first fell in love with having a literary community while I was in the San Francisco Bay Area. I read “Unfortunate Woman” by Richard Brautigan within the living walls of a Berkeley apartment. I could feel the inspiration for authors’ pages everywhere I looked. Occasionally, I’d scrounge up three hundred dollars and take a writing class from one of my favorite living authors, Joshua Mohr, the edgy Mission SF writer. Josh’s work, “Termite Parade” was listed as the Editor’s Choice by the New York Times. This is to say that high caliber authors fitting your particular style are available for guidance and consulting at fairly reasonable prices in San Francisco. I attended Rumpus readings and Litquake events. I felt like I was hiding in the woodwork of a really cool literary scene. I was on the periphery, but I felt a deep sense of identity and belonging in it.

Stress, though, was the currency with which I paid for my San Francisco lifestyle and eventually it was no longer worth the price. A couple of years ago I moved back to Salt Lake City. I felt dislocated from my literary scene, and could be found wandering around lost and disconnected at readings and open mics. Nothing seemed to fit. So it was then that I confronted the hardest part of creating a literary group. I had to realize that there was something I wanted and that something did not exist yet in Salt Lake City. The hardest part was acknowledging that if it was important to me that I had to create it.

Just Write: Salt Lake City meets every week and provides an opportunity to write in the company of other writers. The owner of Watchtower Cafe allows us to host our sessions there. It’s an awesome location with a geek culture, a comic book theme, and great events like “Jedi Yoga.” It is perfect for the science fiction writing that I like to do and it has both plenty of tables for writing and huge recliners for chatting about writing.

I started the group in January of this year. At first, it was different people each week. After about a month we had our first regular, now five to seven of us attend weekly. We’ve formed a community and people have splintered off into individual podcast and writing projects based on aligned interests. I asked the regulars at our last meeting for one word to describe our crew of regular writers. They came up with “supportive”, “curious” and with “absurdist humor.” Now that sounds like my kind of literary community!

As authors, what we do is create. It’s actually not hard to create your own writers’ group. If you need one in your town – build it!

photo credit: Emotions of Cups via photopin (license)

4 thoughts on “Starting a writers’ group

  1. Joining the writers group has been just what the doctor ordered for me — I submitted the first three chapters of my current book to a literary agency last week. We’ll see, as I continue with the project and with the group!

    1. Kelli,
      It’s an honor to have your talented self in our group at Just Write Salt Lake City! Keep me posted on your successes & we’ll make sure to give you a shout out. Fingers crossed for you.

  2. As a member of the group, one thing I particularly love is your ability to instill a sense of community without taking the focus away from the writing and our own individual goals. I tend to leave the meetings with both a feeling of accomplishment and inspiration. . .

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