Help me find a no-nonsense writing group.
March 2, 2013 4:59 PM   Subscribe

I've tried several different writing groups and classes. Each ended up being 10% writing and 90% sitting around in a circle giving "three positives and three negatives!" about other writers' submissions. I don't want to do that.

Many years ago I had a job as a writer for a small publication. We had an editor, six writers, and a production manager. The writers all sat together in a small room, writing short pieces which we handed directly to the editor. We worked incredibly hard to get him to laugh or nod. We didn't collaboratively workshop anything. Pieces were either good or not, and that was that. We worked at an insane pace, generating eight or ten bits a day. For me it was a nearly perfect work environment. I have not written so much or so well since, and I have never again been so happy in my job.

I would love to find or create a similar writing situation. Specifically, I liked:
-putting in consistent banker's hours on writing projects
-being around other people doing the same
-getting terse, instant feedback
-not critiquing others' work

I'm not looking for exhaustive commentary and I sure don't want to give it. I just want to pump stuff out in a genially competitive environment and have a trusted person tell me whether it works or doesn't, maybe throwing in a word or two why.

Where I can find a situation like this?
posted by apparently to Media & Arts (4 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
not critiquing others' work

Except that's what a writer's group is. A group of equals critiquing each other. It sounds like you want either an academic program where only the faculty give feedback, or a writing job. You could either sign up for a class or find a small/online publication looking for volunteer writers.
posted by drjimmy11 at 5:05 PM on March 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

It doesn't sound like you want a "writer's group;" it sounds like you want a job. To me, the newsroom-type-environment that you say you enjoyed in the past sounds a lot like some of the big collaboratively edited blogs today, say some of the Gawker blogs. My impression is that these places hire a lot of staff and have a lot of turnover; maybe not be that hard to get in the door.
posted by grobstein at 5:10 PM on March 2, 2013

Ditto Grobstein's first sentence. To be more cynical, you were enjoying the benefits of being in a workplace where professionals have been hired to write, which is different from being in a window-lit room with liberal-arts types who like to write. Your experience ("10% writing and 90% sitting around in a circle") sounds fairly typical of writing groups, which are mostly a waste of time for anybody who is remotely professional about writing. In my opinion, what you're looking for is a unicorn.
posted by cribcage at 9:15 PM on March 2, 2013

Best answer: You can perhaps create the group you're seeking, set out on Meetup all of the parameters you've given us here, that you're not looking for an iced-tea social but rather a nuts and bolts, productive group of people writing together.

Maybe you could meet in a no-nonsense environment -- I did a lot of studying in medical schools libraries, when I lived in Houston and was having trouble studying at home; I'd go to that library and oh man, those med school students are all about work, it was really helpful to me to be around them.

If you can find four other people with similar goals to yours -- maybe by putting something on Meetup, or even something on Craiglist -- if you can find people who also seek what you are seeking, the rest will unfold easily, or so it seems to me.

Good luck!
posted by dancestoblue at 11:18 PM on March 2, 2013

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