You've been itching to start a local creative writing club, but you how. The following stages of club-building will get you moving in the right direction.
1. Define the Writing Club
What type of creative writing is this club going to deliver to its members? If the only thing that fires you up to run a writing club is Young Adult Fiction, then make your club about that exclusively. Do what excites you and makes you feel good. After you know what you want to focus on, make a list of other characteristics you expect or want your club to have, such as:
- Age range: A writing club filled with teenagers and college students will have different needs than working professionals in their thirties.
- Skill level: Is this for beginners, intermediate, advanced or all three?
- Lifestyle: What schedules will your attendees likely have? Will most of the members be students who have classes at certain times, or working professionals who are only available to meet on weeknights after work?
Other Steps for Defining Your Club
After you know what type of writing and people your club will have, you can do other activities to build a unique identity for your club. You can:
- Pick a name
- Create a logo or motto
- Make T-shirts for club members
- Buy a unique guest book, sign-up or sign-in journal
- Set up a Facebook page for your club (you can follow most of the steps in the link, except select "Cause or Community" instead of "Business")
These activities will help refine the identity of your club. It's OK to borrow certain traits from your group to craft your name and brand. For example, if you know your group will be seniors who love playing bingo (because you all met at a bingo tournament), pick a fun name or logo related to bingo. Pick something that will build a bond.
2. Find Your Members
It might take some extra work in the beginning, but you'll need to do some special events to draw your first members. Translate "special events" to mean "parties." People love food and fun. Start off your recruiting activities by planning parties with food, music, and games. Require an RSVP and make sure your ads say there are limited spots. This will ensure you don't overcommit your party budget.
You can also:
- Post flyers at the local coffee shop, downtown community center or in the glass storefronts of businesses who give you the OK.
- Start with the people you already know: ask co-workers, fellow churchgoers, or friends at your yoga group to see who has been secretly hiding a passion for writing.
- Post a notice on MeetUp.com, which helps connect people in local communities, first online through their site, then in-person.
Other Recruiting Ideas
With so many online tools available, it would be folly to overlook these methods for recruiting new members. For example, learning how to advertise for free online can expand your recruiting reach. These methods range from social media channels to free online classified pages.
3. Plan Your First Meeting
Decide on the two most important things you want to do in your first meeting, then focus all your energy on those activities. Don't stuff too many activities into one meeting. Do a few things really well instead of doing many things poorly. These could be:
- A "getting to know everyone" style of meeting with icebreaker games
- A simple and fun writing exercise, for example, everyone in the room writes a micro-story of 100 words or less using any three nouns from a list of prompts.
- Establishing ground rules: although the first meeting should be fun, you should also clearly communicate the rules for the club. You want people to take your club seriously, and this means running things smoothly without dysfunction or lack of etiquette among members. Aim for constructive criticism, not destructive, as this video encourages:
The club will need a way to communicate with each other outside of meetings. Decide on this medium before the club begins. Email, a common social media platform, or free web apps such as Slack are great for group communication. Pick a method you know most people in your group will be able to do without difficulty.
Keep It Positive and Constructive
All the planning in the world won't save a writer's group that tears its attendees down. Perfect the art of encouraging writers first before offering any kind of criticism. This might require some firm rule enforcement if other members are too negative or egotistic. Remember the highest rule of writer's groups: you're there to help other writers.