Monday, November 17, 2014

Leanne Dyck's Writing Group Interviewed

As a group activity, my writing completed this series of questions... The questions were written by the Writer's Digest editors.

Left to right:  Amber Harvey, Gail Woodward, Leanne Dyck (me), David Burrowes and Susan Snider

  1. Tell us the name of your group, where you are located and how large the group is.

Name:  The Mayne Island writing group
Location:  Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada
How large:  six members—although all six members are rarely attended, usually about four or five.

  1. Summarize your group in 1 – 3 sentences

We are a group of writers with diverse writing styles, genres, and goals. We are devoted to developing our craft and try to be open-minded and attempt to leave our egos at the door. Together we have supported each other through many challenges and victories.

  1. What works for you in terms of format? Have you tried formats that don’t work so well?

Submissions are usually limited to approximately 1,500 words. We distribute our submissions, by email, at least a week before meeting. Our submission is critiqued during a round table discussion where we each contribute. Submissions are read aloud by the writer. This allows the other writers to notice oral nuances that might get missed on the written page.

  1. How often do you meet, and what do you do during meetings?

We meet, once a month, 10 months of the year. We send out an agenda and one person is designated the timekeeper. Our two-hour meeting begins with a general check-in. An individual critiquing of submissions follows. We conclude with a discussion regarding group business and/or personal reflections.

  1. What do you do between meetings?

Between meetings we may meet on an informal basis—but rarely. Usually, we work independently on our own writing projects. At times we’ve read each other’s complete manuscripts and made helpful suggestions. Some members email links to writing-related resources. As a group, we’ve attended writing retreats, workshops, and festivals. We’ve also supported one and another by attending group member events such as book readings.

  1. What are the most important ways you support each other?

We support each other during the meetings by offering constructive feedback, lending support and listening carefully.

  1. What have you learned as you’ve grown together?

We’ve learned effective ways to support each other’s work, for example by offering and receiving constructive feedback.

  1. Do you have any tips for creating and maintaining a successful writing group?

Meet in a mutually supportive environment where all members feel listened to and understood. Check-in before and after offering feedback. What type of feedback is being requested—construction of the manuscript or overall sense of the story? Was your feedback received in the manner you intended—where you understood?

The person at whose house we meet is no longer “host” once everyone is welcomed. Coffee and tea are available and we help ourselves. The host becomes just one more member of the group. No demands are placed on any member. We acknowledge that everyone grows at her own rate, in her own time. The group is there for the members, not visa versa. Keep it fun. Enjoy each other as you build your group.

More information regarding critique groups...

Why You Should Ignore Most of the Advice from your Critique Group by Anne R. Allen

More information regarding how to acquire feedback about your writing...

5 Ways To Get Honest Feedback on Your Manuscript

And there is some humour in critiques, thanks to Writer Unboxed...

Dear Dwight:  A Critique Letter