writers.com groups

Writing Groups

We know writing can be lonely work, so we decided to host free writers groups for fiction and nonfiction writers. Participation in the groups helps build a community where writers can gather for inspiration and support, exchange critiques, keep in touch with fellow class members, or just to chat. The groups are run from email lists. When you register for a group you are given the address of the group list; any mail sent to the list is duplicated and forwarded to everyone else in the group. The groups are not moderated; there's no protocol set up for submitting and critiquing work, no teacher, and no rules about what the group should or should not discuss. You can register or unregister whenever you like by writing to groups@writers.com. When your registration is accepted, you'll receive the group address along with notes on how to participate. Our one restriction is that only those age eighteen or over register for the groups.

For more information about the groups, please read our the FAQ below. If your question isn't answered or if you're ready to join a group, email groups@writers.com. (Please indicate which of the groups you wish to join.)

There are many writing communities on the Web. Our groups may not be for you or suit your needs. For information about choosing a writing group see the articles listed below.

How many groups are there?

Writers on the Net currently hosts fiction and nonfiction. If the group you're interested in is full, watch for announcements of openings on this page and in our monthly newsletter. If you're not already on our mail list and receiving our free newsletter, you can subscribe here.


Who can join?

Anyone can join who enjoys writing and would like to meet and talk to other writers, receive feedback on your work, and comment on the work of others in a supportive, friendly environment.


How do the groups work?

The groups are run through email lists. When you join a group, we send you the group email address. Any mail sent to that address is automatically copied and distributed to everyone else in the group. To participate in the groups, all that is required is that you have access to email. To send your work to the group, in your word processor, highlight the text you want to send, copy it to the Windows clipboard by pressing CTRL-C, position the cursor in the body or main part of your email message where you want the text to go, and paste it in by pressing CTRL-V.


How do I join a group?

You can join by sending an email to groups@writers.com. Please specify the group you wish to join; fiction or non-fiction. We will send you the group email address and more information on how to use the group, and subscribe you to the group list. All requests to join the groups must go through Writers on the Net. You can't subscribe yourself automatically. We've set it up this way so that we can control the number of people in each group and sub-group, and to protect the groups from spam.


How do I leave a group?

You can unsubscribe from a group at any time. Write to us at groups@writers.com, and we'll unsubscribe you (if you do write to us, please mention the group from which you want to be unsubscribed!).


How much does membership in the groups cost?

Nothing; the groups are free!


Can I change groups, or belong to more than one group at a time?

Yes, you can. Requests to change groups, or to add yourself to new groups, should be sent to groups@writers.com.


How can I contact the groups administrator to ask questions, make suggestions, report trouble, or unsubscribe from a group?

Write to groups@writers.com. Please do not send mail to Writers on the Net through the group list addresses. The groups receive a lot of mail every day, and we can't check all of it for messages meant for us. We find them and pull them out when we can, but it's better if you contact us directly, and use the group address only for mail that you want distributed to every member of the group.


What kind of activities take place on the groups?

We hope that the groups will be places where writers and aspiring writers can gather for support and inspiration, discuss writing and writing-related topics, make new friends, keep in touch with former class members, and provide comments on and suggestions for each other's work. So far, we've been really pleased with the interaction within the groups.


What kind of activities don't take place on the groups?

If you're selling something, want to educate people politically, evangelize, or rant, we do not have a forum for you! These groups are for writers, and are about writing. Spammers, flamers, and other disruptive elements will be removed from the group list.


Do the groups have teachers or leaders?

These groups are not moderated; there's no protocol set up for submitting and critiquing work, no teacher, and no rules as to what the group should discuss. However, in some of the groups, members have already made suggestions that have been adopted by the rest, and order is developing naturally out of the chaos--that's great!


Are there rules for group interaction?

Technically, no, but of course we hope that all group members will be considerate and show respect to the others. Remember, too, that we don't screen potential members before we let them in. This means that there may be young people in the groups-- and for that matter people of all ages and from all walks of life-- so please do reflect on who might be receiving your mail to the group and the effect that a rant or some really harsh criticism might have before you press the "send" button. Use the group for discussion, critique, support, jokes, bits of interesting information, commiseration, exclamations of exaltation, or most of whatever else occurs to you. Don't send flames--this includes personal attacks or critiques that savage someone else's work. Remember too that in email, irony, sarcasm, or even dry humor can sometimes be read literally and an insult can be perceived where none is intended. While posts to the groups are not moderated, our goal is to create an online community where writers can give and receive support and advice.


Help! I love being in this group, but not all the mail in my in box! What can I do about it?

There's a lot of mail coming through the groups sometimes. It can be annoying, overwhelming, and even scary. Most email programs have a function called "filtering" that you can set so that any mail directed to you with, say, poetry@ (if you're in the poetry group and that's the first part of the address) in one of the header fields gets shunted automatically into a new folder in your email program that you set up. So what you see when you check your mail is your 40 messages coming in, and then when it's all loaded, you find that only the four or five addressed to you personally (and not as part of the group) are in your in box. All of the group mail has flown into the new directory by itself, where you don't have to sort through it right away, but can read it (or not) whenever you like. If we at Writers on the Net didn't use filters, we would go loony with all the mail we get (all the groups mail, all the mail from all our classes, etc.)

There are many email clients and they are constantly being updated so we can't be specific here. We suggest checking the resources for your software. Here are, for example,the instructions for Eudora (Windows version) and Eudora (Mac version). Your email program's "help" file contains more information about customizing mail filters. (Look in the "help" section under "filters" or "filtering" or consult the online tech support area on your email client's Web site. However, it is not difficult to do. These are very general instructions to give you an idea:
  1. Open your email program.
  2. Locate the Filters section, usually found under Edit, Options, Window, or Tools on the menu bar.
  3. Click New and type the name of the new filter. Make sure it's easy to remember, such as "Poetry Class."
  4. Enter the filter conditions, or "rules." Conditions are requirements the email must meet (for example, the sender is poetry@serve.com) in order for the action (such as placing it is a particular mailbox or folder) to take place. Configure the filter by telling it that anything with "poetry@" in the header--any part of the header--should be moved or transferred into the directory "Poetry." Don't tell it to filter the whole address, poetry@serve.com, because sometimes mail will come to you on the list from a slightly different address like poetry@mail.serve.com, and it won't be filtered if there isn't an exact match.
  5. Select the action you want the program to perform with filtered email. For class mail, you'll want to transfer you messages to a specific folder or mailbox.
  6. Click OK or Save to save your new filter.

Articles on Choosing a Writing group:

"How to Succeed in an Online Writing Workshop" by Victory Crayne



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