Saturday, June 28, 2014

3 ingredients to look for in a writing group


The 3 the key ingredients to a successful writing group

27 years and counting - that's how long I have belonged to my writing home, The Alberta Romance Writers' Association. ARWA is one of the longest running, self-supporting craft oriented writers' groups in Alberta. We started as romance writers dedicated to supporting and educating romance writers. We're still here. We must be doing something right.

Time changes all things and our group is no exception. Our members now write not only romance but also  mystery, suspense, crime, paranormal, SIFI, fantasy and more both for the adult and YA markets. Numerous members are published in short stories and poetry and many wrote or write non-fiction on the job and in magazines, newspapers and books.

Over 400 people have belonged to the group at one time or other with about 50 active members each year. 30% of our membership are distance members - either living outside Calgary or traveling much of the winter and the average attendance at meetings is fifteen.


  • First and foremost it offers a safe haven for all writers- those who want to publish and those who write for themselves. Within a policy of maintaining non-judgmental attitudes members are encouraged and shown how to use feedback methods that support and inform.
  • Educating writers on how to write better remains at the core of workshops, events and discussions. The accumulative expertise within the membership is astronomical.
  • Active, engaged members share their knowledge, in writing skills, career expertise and technical assistance for social media, MS formatting, marketing and more.
  • Hard working volunteers run the workshops and fund raising events (with a breakeven-or-better philosophy) and provide liaisons with the larger writing community.
  • Low annual fees. I know of no where else to get the level of professional training ARWA offers for $50 a year.  (Subject to change although it has not changed in over a decade.)



  • 14 novels published this year (2013-14)
  • 5 more scheduled to publish before the end of 2014
  • 16 short stories published
  • 12 or more finished first drafts






  • craft and marketing workshops (1 evening and 1 Saturday per month- 10 months a year)
  • a public web site and Facebook page
  • a private Facebook page for members
  • 10 newsletters a year
  • challenge teams (writing support pods geared to various levels and stages of writers )
  • Beta Readers, cover input, assistance in areas of self-publishing or traditional submissions
  • launches and blog boosts for our published books
  • outside speakers on various topics from police work to play writing
  • camaraderie and support
  • shared information on all things writing related

BONUS BENEFITS -Writing friendships 

There's nothing quite like sitting in a room with a group writers, talking about writing. Nothing quite like writing friends you can email or Skype when you've had a horrible writing day or a fantastic story idea.

There's nothing quite like WRITERS and ARWA has writers.

Do you belong to a writing group? What is the best thing about your group?


  1. I am happy to say I belong to the AWRA and part of this fantastic group. For a long period of time I was a very distant writer, but the help and support on the internet helped keep me going. A good article on a great group. Thanks.

  2. Mary - no group is perfect - but for me ARWA has been a support, a university of learning and an amazing source of friends who "get me" as a writer. My advice to beginning writers (and others further along the path) is to find a writing support system that works for you. Writing is too solitary to live on an island.