Happy birthday blog: Revisiting the first post, “Start Your Own Writing Group”

In celebration of this blog’s one-year anniversary, I’m reposting the first item. Oh, how young we all were!


Want some nerdy fun that can help advance your career? Start your own writing group! You have several options, including:

  • A group of random writers from a variety of disciplines. Check out Meetup to see if there are already any groups meeting regularly in a cafe near you. These are fun if your goal is to meet new folks or work on your personal goal setting. However, you may not get a lot of useful feedback on your paper about neural network architecture.
  • A group of peers at work. Good times if you actually like your co-workers (yes, I fall into that category). You can either start a formal group (invite everyone) or informal (just ask around and let it grow organically). The danger in a formal group is that if you are in a leadership position, your invitation can come off more like an expectation. No one likes feeling voluntold.
  • A virtual writing group. There’s no reason you need a group in vivo. There are scads of ways to meet online using a FaceBook page, google docs, virtual teleconferencing or even Second Life. This is especially useful if you are one of a handful of folks studying your particular fascinating fungus. If there seems to be a lot of response to this blog, maybe we can set up something in this forum.

Okay, so you and a bunch of like-minded others have pens, paper and lattes. What’s next? Again, you’ve got some choices:

  • A real feedback group. Group members provide drafts and get constructive feedback. Not just “this is great!”. Good when you don’t have other sources of feedback.
  • A fake feedback group. Group members share drafts and are told “this is great!”. Pretty annoying if you are expecting constructive feedback, but everyone needs unconditional love once in a while.
  • A goal-setting group. This is my personal fave. Hold regularly-scheduled brief meetings (30 minute tops) to go around the group and state progress on goals and set new ones.

Any other formats I’ve neglected? What works for you?