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The Top Ten Ways to Make a Group Write-in Successful

September 15, 2010

(cross posted at

Have you ever thought, “HEY SELF? This writing thing is lonely! I wish I had friends I could talk to who have, like, faces and arms! You know, instead of these pesky computer people who are fun, but who can’t actually hug me when I get a rejection in my inbox?”

Well, think no longer!

The answer to your woe is simple: You need a writing group! Not a critique group (though those are certainly helpful), this is a group of other writer-ly individuals who meet with you in actual real life places to tappity-tap-tap on their laptops at the same time you do. Fun!

The esteemed PJ Hoover (one of my real-life actual people friends who often sits across a table from me and writes WAY more words than I do) and I have assembled a handy list of tips for you.

So what are the top ten ways to make this type of group successful? Well, HERE YOU GO:

10. Find an undisclosed location where your children and/or family and/or non-writer friends will be unable to track you down. Like a cave. Or the moon. Or a coffee shop on a university campus.

(image from

9. Find somewhere with free WiFi. Because if you think you’re not going to check your email, you’re only fooling yourself.

8. Bring PJ Hoover with you because she will set a timer and force you to write, if only for 45 minutes

7. Bring a ruler so if someone talks while the timer is running, you can slap their hands. This is referred to as “not respecting the timer” or NRTT. (Additionally, you can come up with silly acronyms to pass the time while you should be writing.)

7.5. By the way, if you are found guilty of NRTT you must buy everyone a beer. Or a butterbeer, depending on ages and locations.

6. Store crayons in sekrit place on top of a door or windowsill in case your children track you down and they want try to write too. (Note: this also works well with crazy homeless guys, drunk waitresses and trolls. WE KNOW THIS FROM EXPERIENCE.)


5. Come to the writing place with a fully charged battery in case your writing group blows a fuse. An actual fuse. Not a brain fuse. You will DEFINITELY blow a brain fuse sometime during your group writing adventure. That means you’re doing it right.

5.5. PJ has asked that I add a note to this one to make sure that the place you choose actually HAS a plug for your computer in case you ignore #5 (or you have a super crappy laptop battery, which, yes, we all do). Some places *coughacertainB&Nhereintown* do not have said plugs and this might require you to bring a 50 foot extension cord and a 12 volt adapter for your car so that you can plug all your crap in but still enjoy the writerly ambiance of your friends and the cushy chairs they are spilling their lattes on.

4. Food is a great reward. Set a chocolate cake on the table and when the timer goes off, reward yourself by grabbing a piece.

4.5. Kari adds that forks are optional

3. Make sure caffeine is on hand. Always with the caffeine. And if you don’t drink caffeine, make sure you bring some for the other people so they can have enough energy to write AND wake your *beep* up over and over.

(Caffeine. And Star Trek mugs)

2. Feel free to vent on any writing topic during breaks such as submissions, revisions, agents, editors. And book bashing LAVISHING PRAISE ON ALL BOOKS is perfectly acceptable in this environment.

2.5. Make a note of your location during all of this, though. Like, if you’re writing in a coffeeshop in the Random House office building make sure you don’t say something extra super dumb.

1. Write! And even if your writing for the day is less than stellar, that’s OK. Because you’re doing it. You’re out of the house. You’re with friends. You’re possibly eating cake and drinking butter beer, and you’re putting words onto paper. YOU’RE EFFING DOING IT, YOU BADASS WRITER. LOOK AT YOU GO!

(PJ Hoover and Jessica Lee Anderson are racing to see who gets the muffins first)

Don’t doubt it, YOU ARE DOING IT!

(K.A. Holt is doubting it, but only because someone or something has taken a bite out of her notes. Pesky Trolls!)

And your friends are there to support you all the way.

(Jessica Lee Anderson, KA Holt, E. Kristin Anderson and PJ Hoover celebrate writey timez)

KA. Holt wrote this post in conjunction with but it took her WAY longer than it should have because she did not have crayons hidden on top of a door or windowsill.

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