|How does your writing group work?|
Last winter, I met with three other writers every two weeks. We met for approx two hours to discuss the writing we handed out at the previous meeting. By the end of April, we read each others NaNos and had some great conversations about things that worked vs things we found confusing.
It looks like we will meet this winter to again swap NaNo chapters (Caveat: this is purely to enjoy the stories and get used to reading and commenting. We realize they are nowhere near "final" stages.), but I have heard requests for more substance to these meetings.
One request is for dedicated writing time. Another is for someone to bring a "lesson" of sorts for each meeting. I feel the group's hunger to learn more and I absolutely applaud it.
As the ad hoc "leader" of our group, I feel conflicted. Reading, sharing, and learning through experience is one thing. But preparing lessons, incorporating free writes, readings, and scene rewrites? This feels a bit much for a 2 hour group.
And the nagging question in my head that I continue to to ignore because I don't know how to deal with is: have our needs and expectations outgrown our group?
The success of last year's group was due largely in part to four people all making the same commitment. This year, one person's work schedule has dramatically changed, another has just returned from a semester abroad and likely hasn't written anything, and I feel like I'm ready to put my 2011 NaNo on the back burner so I can get to my 2010 story. But all the while, no one wants to break up the group.
Ignoring our schedules for a moment, those of you who participate in writing groups, how do you manage writing time versus critique/discussion time? Is it possible to incorporate both, or should they be two separate meetings?
I would love to hear how any of you approach writing/crit groups.