One of the saddest truths about being a writer is realizing how lonely and isolating it can be. Oftentimes, we sit in rooms alone for hours coming up with story ideas and editing drafts. Or we stake out coffee shops, avoiding human contact. In order to remove that likely loneliness from the writing profession, I’ve learned the necessity of building a network or becoming a part of a community of other writers.
In another post, I briefly talked about the importance of building a community and how a writer group can help you polish your manuscript for the eyes of your audience, agent, or editor. With that being said, I highly recommend you workshop your work with a writers’ group.
Since I live in Atlanta, I thought it would be apt to tell you which communities are on the top of my list and why. That way, you can gear your research in that direction when looking for writer groups in your own city. If you have any questions about any of the material discussed, don’t hesitate to email me with questions. I’m happy to help!
“Though the act of writing itself is solitary, being a writer requires community.” – J.A. Hennrikus
There are five things you want to take into account before you dive into your search for a community. The first one, the simplest one, is understanding the importance of having a community. What this entails is you, the writer, thinking about how much this community will mean to you once you’re a part of it. Are you looking for a writing partner or new friends? Do you think the community will add something to your life in a meaningful way? If not, then what’s the point?
Another thing to consider when dealing with communities of writers is figuring out how to find them. Keep in mind that the easiest way to find these groups is to do a quick Google search by using the simple formula like “Writer Groups in ---” or “Writing groups near me”. Generally, you’ll find a good number of results as there are communities all over the internet and many that meet in person. You’ll want to know whether you prefer an online community or a face to face community. Each have their own pros and cons.
When you find this community and start engaging, you need to know and understand your level of commitment. Are you going to want to meet or login on certain days and times? Or do you want a community where you can drop in between PTSA meetings or Jalen’s soccer practice? No matter which one you choose, you should commit to a certain number of meetings or hours each week to networking with this group of writers. People in that group will see your level of commitment and reach out to you in a meaningful way. These relationships can help you find jobs, writing partners, and other opportunities. So, don’t shirk your commitments, whichever you have set up.
A lot of the time, there is a certain cost in these communities. It could be time, energy, and, more often than you’d think, money. The good thing is, that if you’re a writer and make income on your writing, you can deduct your costs when it comes to dealing with your writers group. Costs can include meals when discussing the business of writing, dues/fees, donations, and sometimes mileage. Before you deduct anything, talk to your tax preparer. Every situation is different. Even though you may be able to deduct some of those costs at tax time, be aware of the costs right now. If you’ll have to spend money on dinner twice a month or pay yearly dues, make sure you have budget dollars allotted for those purposes.
If you have to drive twenty miles for the meeting or be online during dinner time, consider the level of convenience that plays into being a part of one of these groups. If it’s too hard to make the meetings, then maybe you should find a different group that works best for you.
These prerequisites will help you on your search, so keep them in mind. Below you will find some awesome writing groups in Atlanta. If you’re in the area, check them out. They love out of towners dropping in.
“It was actually a women’s writing group I belonged to in graduate school that gave me the courage to move from poetry to fiction.” – Mary Gordon
Best Writing Communities in Atlanta
Vicious Circle Writing Group
The Vicious Circle Writing Group meets at Manuel’s Tavern on North Highland Ave. Meeting days are generally the 2nd and 4th Monday of each month, depending on when certain holidays fall on the calendar. The group reads selections from all genres. If you’re unsure of what you can and cannot bring, contact the group through Meetup or Facebook. Due to Covid-19 concerns, the group is currently meeting online.
There are no membership fees to join the group. However, since meetings are at a restaurant, it’s common courtesy to purchase something and tip your server.
Meeting attendance can be between just a few people and over twenty depending on turnout. There are thousands of members that have “joined” via Meetup over the years.
All feedback is delivered on-the-spot and in person. The writer reads his/her selection out loud. The others follow along with their copy provided by the writer. The group members take turns giving verbal feedback on the writer’s work. First impressions are everything when it comes to this group.
From their website
Bring a piece you've written (less than 2000 words) that you want critiqued to the legendary Manuel's Tavern for insightful feedback, delicious food, strong drink, and excellent company. You don't have to bring your writing to participate, but it's always more fun if you do! If you plan to read try to print out at least 10 copies of your work so the group can read along and take notes.
Atlanta Writes (Writers Group)
Atlanta Writes (Writers Group) meets every other Saturday morning and Thursday night at various locations. Other events pop up every so often like Sunday write-in sessions where prompts are used to inspire writers. Also, there are Dungeon Master writing sessions for Dungeons & Dragons campaigns. Keep an eye on their Meetup page for all of their various events. The group currently hosts online meetings.
There is no cost to join. When meeting at restaurants/bars, be sure to purchase from the establishment and tip the server. The group also takes donations to offset the costs of the various organizers.
Atlanta Writes (Writers Group), like many other Meetup groups, has accumulated thousands of members over the years. Meeting attendance is generally first-come, first-served.
Those who want feedback must submit their work ahead of time via Dropbox. Be sure to read all of their guidelines when it comes to uploading and downloading submissions from other writers. Also, they have specific guidelines when it comes to delivering feedback. All of the grammar mistakes can be addressed before the meeting. The live feedback focuses more on global issues.
From their website
We’re writers of all genres. All skill levels welcome, from fledgling to veteran. We get together for the sake of improving the way we do this thing called “writing.” We're primarily based in Decatur and meet every other Saturday morning, as well as every other Thursday evening during the month. Feel free to join the group, attend a meeting (once you join you'll see when and where), and just observe to see if this group is a good fit. If it is, stick around. If it's not, we wish you well in finding a group that lines up with your ambitions. We hope to see you soon. Atlanta Writes
Decatur Science Fiction & Fantasy Scribes
Decatur Science Fiction & Fantasy Scribes focuses on all types of speculative fiction (sci-fi, fantasy, horror) among other genres. The group meets on Wednesday nights and Saturday mornings. The group is currently meeting online.
This group does not charge a membership fee. As always, purchase from establishments and tip your servers.
As one of the newer and more specialized groups, Decatur SF has only a couple hundred members on Meetup. Meeting size is determined by the organizer.
Like Atlanta Writes (Writers Group), submissions are delivered ahead of time. Decatur SF takes submissions via Google Docs and allows those delivering feedback to make comments and help with any grammar issues before the meeting. In-person feedback is generally over global issues of the work.
From their website
Started a YA fantasy masterpiece but struggling to finish? Or perhaps a post-apocalyptic thriller seeking an audience? How about a high fantasy swashbuckler that might need a little polishing? This Meetup is for genre writers of all levels looking to find a supportive feedback group. We focus on two things in Scribes - great discussion and great feedback. So, if that sounds like something you'd be interested in, sign up and come meet like-minded writers in your specific genre. KEEP WRITING!
Atlanta Writer’s Club
Atlanta Writer’s Club is the oldest writer’s group in Georgia, having been formed way back in 1914. The club meets on the 3rd Saturday of each month at Dunwoody campus Georgia State University. It hosts two writer conferences annually to introduce writers to agents and editors working within the industry, an annual BBQ for members, and contests and workshops with established authors from Georgia and other areas of the country. The AWC also takes part in organizing one of the largest independent book festivals in the country, the Decatur Book Festival (held in downtown Decatur, GA).
In their monthly newsletter, they also provide a directory of critique groups (you can find all the aforementioned groups in their directory). AWC is a nonprofit and has a board of directors. In light of Covid-19, meetings and workshops are hosted online.
For non-members, the first meeting is free. For individuals the cost is $50/year, for students the cost is $40/year, and for family of current members, the cost is $25/year.
AWC has hundreds of members and its meetings generally feature a large crowd.
AWC is not a feedback club, per se. At each meeting, members can hear from guests who have found success in the business and craft of writing. There are opportunities, however, to submit materials to the guest speakers and receive live feedback from that speaker (usually a literary agent or editor). AWC meetings are like seminars in which viewers take notes of pertinent information to grow as a writer and become even more familiar with the publishing industry.
From their site Founded in 1914, the Atlanta Writers Club (AWC)…teaches the craft and business of writing, supports the local literary community, and encourages more reading by the public.
Our Membership: AWC serves all who are interested in writing, from well-published authors to those aspiring to write for the first time. Our members include writers of fiction, non-fiction, memoir, essays, blogs, graphic novels, poetry, screenwriting, playwrighting, journalism, and freelance work
Upcoming Events: AWC hosts monthly educational meetings and periodic workshops, all of which are free to its members. We invite you to come to a meeting for free to decide if we’ll be a good fit for you
We also host the Atlanta Writers Conference twice each year, where our members can receive literary agent and publisher feedback about their work, take the next big step toward achieving agent representation and book deals, and learn even more about the writing craft and the publishing industry. In their February 2019 and 2020 issues, readers of The Writer magazine declared this the “Best Writing Conference in Georgia”–with more votes received than any other conference in the U.S.
Annual Writing Contest: AWC hosts a no-fee contest each winter/spring for our members with prize money and publication online for fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. The contest launches at the end of each year, with winners announced at our April meeting.
Critique Groups: AWC sponsors critique groups online and throughout the metro Atlanta area, and we encourage our members to start new ones. We will advertise your group on our website and in our newsletter to help you recruit participants.
Monthly eQuill newsletter, meeting/workshop reminders, and contest and conference announcements: stay up to date on upcoming AWC events, contests, and literary happenings in the Southeast.
Atlanta Writers Having Coffee
Atlanta Writers Having Coffee is a casual group that meets inside Ponce City Market (near Hop’s Chicken) every other Sunday. Attendees grab coffee (or another beverage) and breakfast and discuss their writing. The group is currently on pause due to Covid-19.
This group is free to join. Purchase whatever you want from the Ponce City Market Food Court.
On Meetup, the group has over 1,000 members. However, the meeting size is generally between 5 and 10 people.
Atlanta Writers having coffee is not a feedback group. It is a networking and discussion group. Enjoy insightful discussions with other writers here. Of course, you may discuss your writing woes and successes with attendees.
From their site
Do you write (fiction, poetry, non-fiction)? Do you long for a group of fellow writers with whom to share stories from the trenches (what you love about the writing process, your latest struggle)? Then this group is for you. Let's get together once a month for coffee (or, if you're that rare writer who doesn't like coffee, insert the beverage of your choice) and conversation with others who understand the joys and sorrows of pounding away at a keyboard for hours to bring those characters in your head to life or to distill those flowery phrases into the perfect image.
“I think it’s very important to have a feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better.” – Elon Musk
I hope the information that I have provided is adequate for you. As writers, we need an engaging community in order to not feel so lonely (and to not go insane). So, especially once this crisis is over, go to a meeting or two with one of these groups and enjoy that camaraderie. You might get a great idea from someone in the group. You might even make a few longtime friends. It’s worth a shot, right?
Social media is always a great place to start. So, head over to your favorite social media platform and do some searching. There is a gigantic community of writers wanting to connect and trade war stories.
If you want to know which one of these groups is my favorite, shoot me an email and I’ll give you the scoop. As always, I’m happy to help in any way that I can!
Meetup – Find all sorts of groups to join
Atlanta Writer’s Club – Atlanta’s oldest writer’s club
Facebook – Search Facebook groups for a community
Reddit – Look at Reddit channels for feedback and conversation