Start a Writing on
the Run™ Writers’ Group
or Have a Writing Partner
By Allen and Linda Anderson
Does anyone actually have ideal circumstances for
writing? Probably not.
We might look at someone else’s life and think that
person should be able to write all the time. But the person will probably tell
you all the reasons why she or he isn’t writing, and those reasons will be
compelling to that person.
One of the best ways to Write on the Run™ is to get a
writing partner or start a writing group. You don’t have to physically meet
each other. In fact, you can meet on the Writing on the Room Chat Room to get
ideas from other writers. But if you can manage to talk on the telephone or
meet in person, you’ll be able to help yourself and others stay engaged in and committed
to the writing process.
First, invite your friends who are busy and struggling
to find time for writing to view this Website. Especially look at “101 Tips for
Writing on the Run” and the archived “Writing on the Run Tip of the Week.”
Decide on which tips you will use for the upcoming weeks. Set a time when
you’ll check in with each other – daily, weekly, or monthly.
Start your writing group or writing session with a
partner by discussing what worked and didn’t when you tried to use the Writing
on the Run idea. Help each other figure out what adjustments you could make for
greater success. Crow about what you’ve done to keep yourself writing. Give
each other MUCH positive reinforcement for writing through the ups and downs of
Two Types of Writing
In addition to the discussions about Writing on the
Run ideas, spend time writing with a group or a partner. You can bring copies
of a specified number of pages of writing to the group or your writing partner
for feedback. Constructive and positive critiques are more effective than
negative and destructive criticism. If you are going to point out strengths and
weaknesses, always start with the strengths.
There is an urban legend
(which may be true) floating around that a study was done of two writing groups
at Harvard University. One group gave only positive feedback to its members.
The other group tore each other’s work apart. When the two groups were followed
up ten years later, none of the critical feedback group members were still
writing. The positive feedback group members were all writing and two of them
had won Pulitzer prizes for their work.
We’ve opted for being involved in both a positive-only
feedback group and a different group that makes suggestions for improvement in
a constructive way (not “This stinks!”) and recognizes strengths.
Below are the rules for the writers’ group that we
founded in 1992 and to which we still belong. You’re welcome to adopt and adapt
our structure. Participation in the Thursday Evening Writers’ Group has worked
well for us and our writing friends who have wafted in and out of the group
over the years. We have written our way through two members having cancer, one
person enduring the deaths of her parents and sister, buying and renovating
homes, children failing and succeeding at schools, engagements, job changes, in
other words – life. We take turns meeting at each other’s homes. We each bring
something to eat. The host provides beverages. We write and we write and we
give each other as much love and encouragement as we can. It’s wonderful!
Thursday Evening Writers’ Group
The purpose of the Thursday Evening Writer's Group is
to support writers in their creative process. We begin the group by asking if
someone has brought a brief piece of writing or a quote that can inspire our
writing. Writers scatter to nooks and crannies around the house that are in
designated areas and make themselves comfortable for an hour of free writing.
Writers are encouraged to use their one-hour of writing time to do first draft,
The group comes back together to share what they have
written that evening. If someone has brought food, this is a good time to get a
helping, a cup of tea or beverage, and make yourself comfortable in the living
Participants in this writing group are asked to make
only supportive, positive, and encouraging statements. This is not a critique
group. It is not about reacting to or even polishing a finished product. Group
members are asked to refrain from making any statements about what they think
will improve a person's writing or to offer suggestions on what direction to go
with it. If a writer wants those kind of critique comments, he or she can
request them privately from other group members. But in group time, critique
statements are not appropriate. They don't support the nature and purpose of
The format for group sharing time is for one person to
read a brief passage, written that evening, for approximately five minutes. If
what the person is reading is an ongoing story and they've written more at home
during the week, they can preface the fresh writing with a brief summary of
what was written outside the group. Then each person in the group can mention
something he or she liked about the writing. Specific statements and comments
are the most helpful.
This process continues until everyone who wants to
read has read and received positive feedback.