So you'd like to take a class to learn more about writing, or you'd like to get feedback from others to improve your work. Critique groups and classes offer support, feedback, accountability, and encouragement. You also stand a good chance of making life-long friends who also love the same thing you do: writing.
Start Your Own Critique Group - Tips for starting your own writing group!
Free vs cost & local vs online
Reasons to join a critique group
Know the types of groups first
There are four major types of groups, but they do not have to be exclusive of each other, as some groups may want to combine elements of two or more.
Writing groups - A writing group is traditionally a group of people who get together to write in the same space at the same time, and in general, keep each other motivated to get words down on paper. Keep in mind that many times a group labeled as a writing group could very well be a critique group as well.
Critique Groups - A critique group will usually do their writing on their own time and then come together to read what they've worked on and offer advice and critique the work.
Social Groups - These groups exist for writers to get together and talk about writing, whether it's about their own work, the way a publishing trend is going, how to market their upcoming book release, or anything in between.
Accountability Groups - Members will write on their own time and use the meetings as a deadline. The group is used to keep writers motivated and accountable for their work. They will check in with other group members to see where everyone is in writing and whether they're reaching their goals or are falling behind. Members can also read their work at meetings or use the time for other discussions on writing.
What to consider when looking for a group
Reasons to start your own group
It may be that there isn't a writing group in your area or that the groups near you don't meet your needs. But you need to be interested in helping other writers improve their work just as much as you're interested in having others help you improve yours. This should always be your top reason to start your own group. No writing group exists to help only one person.
If you don't have the time to help others right now, but still want feedback on your work, consider hiring an editor or find some beta readers. See the Finding an Editor tab under Publishing, for more information.
Tips for starting a local group that meets in-person
Other things your group can do once you're set up:
Online places to start your own group
See the Join a Critique Group tab, for websites that can host your group online as well as this list, which may overlap.
Discord - Create a free chat space, known as a "server", where you can have multiple channels to discuss different topics as well as video and audio channels.
Etherpad - Open source space that works very similar to Google Docs, and can include a video option as well.
Facebook Groups - There are many book groups on Facebook, and it's easy to start your own here as well.
Goodreads - It's easy talk about books on Goodreads in their Groups area, and they have a poll feature that makes voting on your next read super easy!
Google Groups - If you're comfortable connecting via email, try searching Google for online groups.
Groups.io - (Free trial & cost) Email Groups. Supercharged. A modern platform for serious communities. Powerful management tools. Mobile ready. No ads, no tracking.
Google Meet - Free video chat meeting space. It's easy to start a video and invite others to join or schedule something in advance!
Inked Voices - (Free trial & Cost) A platform specifically geared for small writing groups and workshops to collaborate intimately despite distance and strange schedules.
Jitsi Meet - A free, open source video chat platform. Simply type in the title of your meeting and you'll have an everygreen link you can keep forever!
Proboards - A free forum hosting service, where you can create your own forum and keep your discussions organized.
Slack - This app works on iOS, Android, PC, and MAC and is a free forum where you can set up discussion threads, add photos and documents and easily set up meetings and decide what you're reading next!
Zoom - This is a video chat platform that lets you have meetings up to 40 minutes for free.
Ways to critique
Here are a couple of articles on how to write a critique that you may find helpful for your group.
Writing Groups: How to Write a Constructive Critique by Mandy Wallace
Thoughts on Writing #12: Good Critique, Bad Critique by Seanan McGuire