Writing Groups Run for Pay Are Useful…But Not the Same as No-Fee Writing Groups

After last week’s post, in which I explained how to set up and run writing critique groups and manuscript swaps, I got some feedback, and I’d like to address one of the issues that came up.

What to expect if you pay for a professionally-led writing group:

There are many writers/editors, who run critique groups for a fee – and I am among them. Usually, the organizer will do at least some of the recruitment for you, and they have genuine expertise. (Although I suggest you check on this – recently, I came upon a writer who offered advice – for a fee – to a person in a field of writing it turned out they knew nothing about. There’s nothing wrong with asking for a reference even if the person is a published writer of note. Not all writers know all fields of writing, and not all writers are good at running critique groups.) Good writing group leaders are familiar with the “writing group format” and may have a very gentle and efficient way of keeping participants on-task and well-behaved. They will often arrange the logistics of the location/conference call/whatever.

Interestingly, since participants usually pay in advance for a series of meetings, they are more likely to show up. I have a close friend who is a personal trainer, and she says her clients have the same attitude: If you pay in advance, you are more likely to show up, because you know your absence will cost you money, and yet you will get no benefit from that money. For a fledgling writer who really, really needs a fire lit under their tuchas to make them show up regularly for a writing group, this has a big advantage over a free model.

I know many, many people who have enjoyed and learned a lot in writing groups run by a paid professional. A really good writing-group-for-fee is worth the price you pay. However, I don’t classify them with lay-led, no-fee groups for a number of reasons. Examining these will help a writer decide which model will work best for them. Continue reading

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Announcing a class for beginning Jewish writers in L.A.

Do you have a picture book idea?

Have you always wanted to write for the Jewish magazines, but didn’t know how?

I will, G-d willing, be teaching a workshop on writing for Jewish tots, tweens, and teens later this month.

A possible student for my workshop?

Audience: Ladies ages 15 and up are welcome to participate.

Date:May 25th

Time:10 am – 1 pm

Location:Private home in L.A.

Cost:$25, $18 if you refer a friend and they also commit

To sign up: Please fill out the form below.

The Rejection Letter that’s Good for You

Yesterday, I got a rejection letter.

Yes, it happens a lot.

I’ve argued in the past that rejection letters are good for you, and I’ve gotten better at taking them in stride, but this one went even further. Its timing couldn’t have been more perfect.

You see, last night was my monthly writers’ workshop. All morning, I’d been trying to decide on a piece to bring and share. When that rejection letter appeared in my inbox around noon, I decided it was a sign.

No, not that kind of sign.

Not just a sign, but a Sign — “This is the piece you should bring to your writers’ workshop tonight.”

So, I did.

And it was magical.

Our group was smaller than usual, consisting of just three of us (usually, we’re four or five). But the two other ladies present gave me so much insight about what worked in my story and what did not, feedback that I might have been less open to, had I not just received the rejection letter. I spent a good chunk of this morning working on revisions, and plan to wrap them up tomorrow in between baking my challah and roasting my chicken.

I’m still hoping that the next time I hear from an editor, they send an acceptance letter. (To say that I pray for acceptance letters is no exaggeration.) But this experience is definitely going to help me embrace the next rejection letter.

Because another will surely come.