Su Blackwell, The Baron in the Trees

Guidelines for Running a Group

In any writing group, we are our sisters’ and brothers’ keepers.

Our job is to write. To fill pages with our visions, truths, playing, and dreams,  AND to listen deeply to our fellow writers. Writing is an intense, vulnerable, and empowering activity. Because writing is all of these things, any writing group or community:

—MUST be a team, a good tribe, no matter what your personal differences are.

—MUST be founded on the principles of respect and integrity.

*How does this translate into forming and running a writing group?

Each writer commits to attend with an attitude of tolerance, patience, and compassion.

Each writer commits to keeping the other writers’ confidentiality—what is said in the group, stays in the group.

Writers do not tell each other how they are “supposed” to feel about something.

Writers in the group respect other writers’ boundaries: if a writer says, I just want you to listen and not comment, do not comment.

The most powerful thing writers in groups like these do is to bear witness, and to listen deeply to the murmurs, songs, rants, rages, grief, and imaginary worlds of their fellow writers.

While it is important to listen and to let people share or speak as they are comfortable, it is equally important that no one person or two people dominate sharing or discussion. If you have shared, plan to listen, to create a space for your fellow writers.

You can keep the group structure very simple.  Choose an exercise, write for 15 minutes, and then, one at a time, go around the room and let people choose to share from what they wrote if they are comfortable doing so.  It’s that simple.  If you like, before each person shares who feels comfortable doing so, writers can talk about what it was like for them to write that exercise.  Especially in the first weeks of a writing group, the goal is not to offer any suggestions on the writing, just to hear what’s there. See the eight-week plan attached for suggestions about how group rules and dynamics can evolve over time.

We are happy to answer questions/offer suggestions:  just leave a note on the comment form with your email.