Writers’ groups are a fantastic way for writers of all levels to better their craft. It’s fairly simple. A small group of people (usually between 3-8 people) get together on a regular basis (usually once a week) to discuss, read and offer guidance on the scripts they are writing. Even established professionals do this.
Writers’ groups are great in that they can serve several purposes:
1) Offer a safe open forum to discuss any creative issues you may be encountering
2) Brainstorm ideas on your story
3) Provide ‘fresh eyes’ to read your script.
4) Hold its members accountable for setting and achieving goals.
6) Keep each other abreast of all the news and goings-on within the industry
7) Share ideas, books, articles, videos etc on writing in general
Writers groups only work if they’re used effectively. All groups function differently, but usually a member will write pages of a script and send to the rest of the members to read and share their thoughts during the next session. Everyone’s thoughts and notes, though valid, will some times differ and long debates/discussions will occur. There’s nothing wrong with this – after all, it’s how the creative process works. But it’s highly inefficient and not fully effective. A lot of time is wasted debating and discussing creative issues amongst members when all the writer wants is concise, intelligent notes. After discussing this with several working screenwriters, I suggest something different. Each writer should take turns every week sending out their pages. The following week, he/she should NOT attend the first part of the writers’ group meeting. That part of the meeting should be dedicated to compiling concise, non-conflicting script notes for the writer. Having him/her in the room while this process goes on will only confuse and cloud his/her creative process having to think about a plethora of notes. Once the group is in agreeance with the notes, they can then convey them effectively and efficiently to the writer either later that meeting when he/she attend . Think of it like studio notes but with intelligent writers instead of a bunch of suits.