Create or Join a Writing Group Using Meetup
Though writing itself is generally a pretty solitary endeavor, writers can benefit greatly from meeting with and talking to other writers, whether for writing critique, business advice, or just plain emotional support. But how do you find other writers? There’s no “Yellow Pages” entry for “struggling poets” or “beginning screenwriters”, there’s no industry directory, and nobody has yet created a geographic map of writers using data from their websites.
Meetup is a pretty good place to start looking. Meetup is a web-based tool to help organize off-web meetings. There are meetups for knitters, photographers, Barack Obama supporters, feminists, fishers, doll collectors, you name it! Of course, writers are pretty well represented, as well.
To find a writing-focused group near you, go to their main page and enter a keyword to search for and your zip code. Meetup will search its database for any group within 20 miles that includes your search term in its name or description. For example, there are 10 groups near me that have something to do with “writing”, ranging from the Las Vegas Writers’ Group to specialist groups like the Nevada Film Industry Meetup Group and the Blogworld and New Media Expo group (which meets annually when the Blogworld blogging convention is in town).
Each group has a profile page that lists where they meet — usually a restaurant, coffee shop, bar, or formal meeting space — and when (e.g. “Second Tuesday of each month”). Once you’re logged in and join a group, you can see information about the members, notes on previous meetings, photos, and other information.
If you don’t find anything near you, you can either a) add your name to a “waiting list” to be notified if anyone starts a meetup on a specific topic, or b) create your own meetup. Meetup supports itself through a fee charged to meetup organizers: $19 US a month ($15 a month in blocks of 3 months; $12 a month in blocks of six). Many meetup organizers ask their attendees to pitch in a couple of bucks a month to defray this cost.
To start a group, search for a topic, and select one of Meetup’s group categories that relates to your topic. Give your group a name and description, accept the terms, and schedule your meetings. Meetup will contact members in your area who have expressed interest in a meetup with your focus, and your group will show up in the regular listings.
Meetup is a pretty cool way to network with people you’d otherwise never meet. Though there is a small charge to create your own meeting, if you ask a dollar or two of each member, just as you’d split a restaurant check (or just pass the hat), the costs shouldn’t be much of a barrier.