This is the second in a three-part series on finding and building a writing community. The first post focused on online resources, both free and paid. This post will discuss local resources, both free and paid, and the third will expand to include traveling to workshops, retreats, and conferences.
There are certain places that writers tend to gather more than others, such as libraries, bookstores, and coffee shops—especially those with a free wi-fi connection. These places all tend to have bulletin boards that you can use to advertise your writing group in advance, and set a time for it to meet at that location.
Some bookstores and libraries also have ongoing reading/book clubs and/or writing groups. If they don’t, you may offer to start one and they may even advertise for you via their newsletter or regular member emails. Most libraries have small meeting rooms that you can reserve and use for free with a library card. As for bookstores and coffee shops, most would be happy to host your group if they are getting a little revenue as well as some free advertising out of the deal.
Another free way to arrange face-to-face meetings with local writers would be to use social media such as Twitter or Facebook, or even to use sites such as Craigslist or Meetup. I know that in my area, both sites have multiple listings for book clubs and/or writing groups.
If you’re willing to invest a bit of time and money, many high school and junior college districts offer low priced classes via a community education department. I’ve taken some of these, and now I also teach them. I have curated my own writing group via the amazing students that I’ve had in my writing classes. You may also try your local park district. Again, if you don’t find these things in place, you might consider starting a group, a workshop, or a class on your own. An additional resource in major cities is Dabble. This is a listing of classes and workshops in a wide variety of areas, including reading and writing groups. They offer a lot of one-day or one-night workshops which are a great way to meet other writers without committing too much time or money.
See my next post if you are feeling a bit more adventurous, and you’d like to expand your horizons, travel a bit, and spend a few days amongst other readers and writers.