Writing Groups: Online vs Face-to-Face

It’s funny how having one thing in common can bring together everyone from teens to the elderly and balance the playing field so that all voices are equal.

I’ve been to two face-to-face writing club gatherings. The first time I wasn’t prepared and went more as an observer. That ended with me offering feedback, constructively I hope, on each piece read aloud. The second time I read some of my work. I was pretty freaked out considering I’ve had almost everything I’ve ever written critiqued one way or another. The group were supportive and kind.daisies-676368_1920 There was no need to be nervous.

The members of the Grand Forks Writers Guild were all so welcoming I couldn’t help but relax. But the part I really enjoyed, which is not as available online, were the spontaneous and different points of view on passages we read aloud. Somehow it was fresher, more honest and thought provoking. It made going to the group well worth the effort.

I’ve been involved in two online writing groups as well. One is the Insecure Writers Support Group and the other is Scribophile. I wouldn’t have gone public without their support and feedback. If you haven’t already, I suggest you check them out. If nothing else you may meet a writer from across the globe.globe-48104_1280

We all come together because of our love of words, our uncontrollable drive to express ideas and capture them on paper or hard drives. People are people, we have our insecurities, our talents, and our need for validation and support.

Where do you go? Is it online or face-to-face?

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35 responses to “Writing Groups: Online vs Face-to-Face

  1. I appreciate this post very much. I think I will sign up too. We can all use support. Hugs Anna. 😊

  2. I think online we have time to edit what we say and face to face, we can read expressions, body language and thoughts are offered in their “raw” form.
    sherry @ fundinmental

  3. I love being a member of IWSG! I don’t belong to any crit groups. I was a member of a wonderful writing group that was all about the writing itself – we did various writing exercises, no critiquing.

  4. I have groups both online and offline. I’m a huge supporter of IWSG too. I also belong to a fantastic group called Untethered Realms. They’re so wonderfully smart and supportive. Once a month, I meet my critique group (S.C.I.F.I.) at the local library. It was intimidating at first, but I’ve learned so much from them over the years.

  5. I’ve had varied success with face-to-face writing groups, mostly good to excellent. It heavily depends upon the make-up of the members.I like IWSG because it deals more with my writerly self than my writing itself. My questions and insecurities. It’s difficult to find anywhere to ask those questions. I’ll check out Scribophile.

  6. I am part of both the online groups you mentioned. I also signed up for Critique Circle, but have never participated there with comment or submitting. They appear to work like Scribophile. They have been around as long too. I have never join a live one, but I am a member of my local NaNoWriMo group in this area, which has been a pleasant experience.

    Juneta Writer’s Gambit

  7. I’ve had two online critique partners a long time. I’ve never met either of them in person, but I feel as if they are close friends. When I have good news, I email them before I even call my mother!

    A year ago, I founded an in-person critique group, and it has also been a great experience. I think we’ve helped each other a lot — but the only downside to the in-person group is that since we meet once a month, there are big gaps in when we read each other’s work. We forget small details, lose the sense of continuity, etc.

    Online, we send whenever we have something ready to send. Sometimes there are still gaps in time, but our online feedback tends to be more prompt and its easier to keep details straight in the reader’s mind.

  8. I think I would like online more because I’d be less nervous than face to face, but then again with face to face you can build better relationships.

  9. I imagine both groups offer a different type of support. Very interesting how each is different yet supportive

  10. I’ve got an online critique group, two editors and a slew of beta readers. It’s always good to have an army behind you, eh?

  11. I have both online and face to face. However neither one, so far, really critics my work. I don’t really have a group for that right now and sometimes I miss it. However, I seem to be doing all right so far. I have a “support” group online that REALLY helps me keep my head on straight, and my little group here where I live is really more for support as well, and, writing to prompts. That is always a good thing I think…

  12. I’m part of the IWSG, and I also have an online writer’s group for critiquing. Years ago I belonged to an in-person writer’s group. I didn’t find that as helpful, though, because we read everything aloud, and I’m more of a visual person. I need to read the words on the page (or screen) for me to do any kind of a useful critique. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the discussions. I just can’t critique well off the cuff that way, and the critiques I received weren’t as helpful as those from the online group.

  13. I’ve only been in a face to face writing group and I loved it in the beginning, then personalities started to clash. Sucked near the end.

  14. Thanks for the interesting take on the online vs in-person writing group debate, Anna. This is very timely since Now Novel’s own online Groups system has just launched. I agree that face to face has a lovely spontaneity, but not everyone has access to local groups, or at least groups to their liking. The great thing with online is you can create your own group around whatever niche you choose, be it a genre, a life experience or anything else. The barrier to entry is so much lower. And it’s easier to be a part of multiple groups simultaneously if you have multiple interests. I’d say both definitely have their place.

  15. I do both. I started out with a face-to-face group, which was pretty nerve-wracking, but then I joined an online group about a year later. Both offer advantages, so I tend to bounce the same scene off each of them to gauge where I’m at.

  16. I’m not a writer but in any aspect of life, face to face is always better because you have a better chance to interact more directly and the dynamic is not the same as online
    great post

    Ruty @Reading…Dreaming

  17. As Critique Group Coordinator for Maryland Romance Writers, I’ll give this advice to critique groups, both in person and online: have everyone post their updated Work-in-Progress, as well as their new submission. This allows critique partners to review the prior material and prevent loss of the continuity that can occur with 4-5 weeks between sessions.

If you're new to writing, ask me anything and if you're experienced, feel free to share what you know. Learning something new in the craft is always welcome.

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