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Negotiating norms

March 28, 2012

Goals

During the first year, we hashed out our writing goals and experimented with different ways of structuring our meetings.  Five years later, we find it helpful to share goals periodically to prod ourselves to action and to gather useful feedback for our current projects. Our goals are as individual as our members and range from completing full-length manuscripts to meeting a deadline for submitting to the group.

Timing

Since the group’s inception we’ve switched between weekly and bi-weekly meetings. Both have advantages and disadvantages. Weekly meetings are easy to remember, create a commitment to writing and build strong connections among the members. If we miss a week, it’s easy to catch up with the socializing and the work. Bi-weekly meetings offer ample time for us to read and comment on each other’s work without compromising time spent on our own writing. However, if we miss a meeting, we may not see the group for a month.

Performing together

It’s hard to get to work at each meeting. As writers, we’re also story-tellers and we happily began share tales of our lives. Most of us are great cooks and we’re all enthusiastic taste-testers.  One of our biggest challenges is to balance our passion for socializing with our desire to write. We’ve tried many strategies including strictly scheduled “check-in” periods for personal news and a unilateral “No Food!” policy. What seems to work is setting and revising ground rules once every few months.

When we measure our progress as a group against our personal goals, we’ve had many successes. Between us, we’ve met group deadlines, entered writing contests, won awards and had several stories published! Five years after the first polite meeting, we are still writing (and talking, eating, laughing and traveling) together.

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