Adapted from the book

In the book Writing Motherhood, you will find lots of suggestions for starting and running a group of Writing Mothers—everything from how to attract interested mothers to how to avoid common pitfalls. All you need, though, is one other person, an available space, and a regular time, and you can begin getting together with another mother to write. However many members you have, just follow these ten tips for running a successful group:

  1. Decide on a maximum number of members and stick to it. Six or eight is probably ideal—large enough to be dynamic, small enough to feel safe.
  2. Agree on the purpose of your group. Ask members to write down their own reasons for joining, then consider how the group can best meet those collective goals.
  3. Set a regular time to meet. Decide whether it would be more convenient to meet during the day, when your children are in school, or in the evening after work. Once a week is optimal, every other week, or even once a month, may be more realistic.
  4. Rotate houses to share the burden of hosting. Or you may want to meet in a public place such as a library, community center, or coffee shop.
  5. Follow a set schedule to keep your meetings from digressing into social hour. You may want to begin and end each session the same way, with an inspirational reading perhaps. If you are meeting for an hour and a half, try to devote forty-five minutes to writing and twenty minutes to reading aloud your writing. That would leave about fifteen minutes for an open forum to ask questions and exchange information.
  6. Use Writing Motherhood as a blueprint. You can proceed chapter by chapter, or you can choose those chapters that interest you each week. Several activities described in "Games Writers Play" are ideal for writing groups, as are the writing starts listed in Appendix I.
  7. Decide ahead of time how you want to respond to one another's writing. Reading your writing aloud can be scary. In Writing Motherhood you will find five constructive ways a listener can respond to readalouds.
  8. Periodically give your group a checkup. Allow members to air grievances, make requests, explore options. By taking the pulse of your group now and then, you will keep its heartbeat strong.
  9. Consider organizing a year-end reading, especially if your group has been writing together for many months. To underscore the importance of the event, hold the reading at a new venue and invite special guests.
  10. Plan a few field trips throughout the year—to a bookstore, an author reading, a writing workshop, or another literary event. The most successful groups break the boundaries of the weekly meetings with forays into the outside world.
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