If you’ve been a devotee of C.S. Lewis or J.R.R. Tolkien for a while, you’ve probably heard about The Inklings. If you’re an aspiring writer and a Lewis/Tolkien fan, then you’ve probably dreamed about being part of their writing group. But, sans a time machine, a literal fulfillment of that dream is nigh on impossible. 

While a pilgrimage to Oxford and a visit to The Eagle and the Child might be an idyllic vacation, it’s beyond the reach for many of us and, really, it’s not quite the same. The next best option might be to start your own writing group. After all, the purpose of the Inklings was for Tolkien, Lewis, and their friends to regularly meet and discuss their writings. 

In theory, starting a writing group isn’t all that difficult. Find a group of people who write, schedule meeting times, and write. Practically, it’s not always that easy. For years, I longed to belong to writing group, but I couldn’t find a place to plug in. I wanted the support of other writers to keep writing and their critique on my stories. So, from the pen of a writing group newbie, here’s my advice on creating your own group of Inklings. 

Finding Your Group

Sometimes finding a group can be the most difficult part of starting a writing group. Writing can be a very private thing. Unless you talk about it, you might not know who writes around you. You’ve finally worked up enough nerve to share your short story, but with whom do you share it?

Start with those closest to you—your friends. Do any of them write? If the answer is yes, ask if they’re interested in forming a group. Yay; you are now one step closer to having a writing group. Decide when, where, and how often to meet. Common meeting places might be your homes, coffee shops, libraries, or anyplace where you can talk and have enough outlets for your laptops/tablets.

If writing with your friends doesn’t work for you, all hope isn’t lost. Check with your local library, coffee shops, writing teachers, and other local writing hotspots. They sometimes have writing groups already meeting. Or, if you’ve written with NaNoWriMo, some of your fellow local writers may wish to keep writing after November.

So, you’ve tried all of this, but you can’t find a local group that meets your needs, you can try on-line. There are several writing critique sites. You join a forum community and have the opportunity to critique others and have your writing critiqued in return. A couple of sites which focus on science fiction, fantasy, and horror are Critters Workshop (http://www.critters.org) and Online Writing Workshop (http://sff.onlinewritingworkshop.com/index.shtml). Words for the wise, whenever you’re sharing online, remember to keep general web safety. (Anytime you put information out on the web, it’s out there for anyone to see and doesn’t go away easily.)

Illustration by Mary MacArthur

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Written by Bethany McGean
Author and Proofreader