Why Don’t Writing Groups Write?

So, back when I lived in California, I had a lovely group of people that I would write with. We’d go to a coffee shop, get a drink, maybe get a pastry (I am partial to chocolate pumpkin bread. Mmm), and we’d catch up for a few minutes, and then we’d write. For two or three hours at a go. And maybe we’d discuss techniques or craft or processes, or help someone with a plot issue, but the main point of the activity was to get something done, whether it was a new short story, editing an old novel, or fighting through a query letter.

We moved back to Colorado almost three years ago now, and I’ve yet to find a group whose point is doing rather than talking. I did have a Wednesday night group going for a bit, but while we sometimes got writing done, mostly we just socialized. And I’ve tried group after group, and they’re all either critique groups–which is good if you’ve got something written, but no good if you haven’t–or are craft groups, which is where people sit around and talk about how to write.

I dislike craft groups a lot. It’s not that I think I know everything about writing and don’t think I have anything left to learn. I don’t think that can ever be true of a writer. I just find that I tend to have a lot more experience than the other participants, and we spend a lot of time going over basics, or whoever’s leading’s trying to push their particular style on everyone, or we spend a lot of time working on activities designed to teach us how to do whatever, and I really really hate spending perfectly good writing time on writing exercises.

I despise writing exercises. I cannot learn through writing exercises and they make me extremely grumpy.

Every now and then I try to round up people who I feel are at a similar level to me, or at least write the same genre, and try to get a writing writing group going, but thus far it’s amounted to nothing.

What’s a girl to do? (Aside from sending the Landsquid to kidnap people, because I understand that’s frowned upon by society.) I have a lovely online group, but it’s very different to sit in a chatroom and write with people instead of doing it in person. (For one thing, your chatroom is not going to catch you if you’re off playing video games instead of what your should be doing.)

I’m going to try out a new group tonight–I found them at DCC, actually, when I stopped to talk to one of the other small presses, and while they alternate craft and critique meetings, I’m hoping I can at least network and maybe find some people up for writing. Also, the craft ones seem like they don’t always have a set topic, or someone presenting necessarily, so maybe they’re more discussion group-y, and I would be okay with that.

What do you look for in a writing group, Squiders? Have you had luck in your area?

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