Thursday, July 21, 2011

Guest Blog by Nancy Julien Kopp: The Benefits of an Online Writing Group

Welcome to one of my writer and blogger friends, Nancy Julien Kopp. Thank you, Nancy, for sharing your take on participating in an online writing group:

Annette asked the right person to write about the plus side of an online writing group. I credit my group, Writers and Critters, for making me a better and a published writer.

With more than a dozen years in two separate groups, I’ve reaped numerous benefits:

  1. An online group is easy to attend. I can participate pre-dawn in my jammies or on sleepless nights. I never need to leave my home or deal with bad weather.
  2. Critical feedback is sometimes easier to give in writing than face-to-face. I may not always like what is said, but I take the attitude that the negative critiques help me grow as a writer. I have often found that it’s easier to give this type of critique when not facing the writer in person. Conversely, since I know my group compliments only when it’s deserved, I know it’s not an ‘attagirl’ comment meant to stroke my ego when I receive positive feedback.
  3. Perceptions of my work are more global. Different perceptions come from the many members who critique my work and who live in different parts of the world. They may see my words in a completely different light than I do. They help me clarify places that might be a bit hazy to readers.
  4. I learn from being able to read other critiques. I try to read a large number of the critiques on other submissions, and then put my observations to use in my own writing and critiquing. It is as beneficial as taking a writing class.
  5. There is more time and space to share marketing tips, writing exercises and grammar guides. We share all of these as well as personal experiences with queries, editors and agents. Marketing tips save time for each writer. In face-to-face groups, there may not be time for exchanging all these resources. Plus we can file resources online.
  6. An online group can be larger than an in-person one. Members in a group of 20-30, like mine, develop close ties over the years. I have stronger friendships in this type of group than in others I’ve joined. Not only does the daily interaction in an online group allow friendships to become strong but I also receive more feedback that I probably would in a smaller in-person group.
  7. Inspiration to write comes partly from the submission requirement. Writers and Critters asks for two submissions per month (and four critiques). Reading what others have written is also an incentive to put bottom on chair and fingers on keyboard to write something new.
Join an online critique group with an open mind and participate regularly. No matter what kind of group you choose, you get out of it what you put into it.


  1. Thank you for this post, Annette and Nancy! I have been looking for an online group for all of the reasons you mentioned. Writers and Critters sounds wonderful -- supportive but structured and thus provides what we all need: "incentive to put bottom on chair and fingers on keyboard to write something new"!

  2. I love my online critique group. We have a submission schedule and it works well for us so we don't feel overwhelmed. Also we can talk/respond to each other's comments when we have time. No set meeting times. We have due dates for critiques to keep us on schedule, but other comments are done whenever we have time to post. It works really well. Though I'd jump at the chance to meet my CPs in person.

  3. Hi Kelly--my group is planning its fourth conference this fall. Meeting face-to-face with my online crit buddies was a tremendous experience. It made our bond even stronger.

  4. Thanks Annette for your wonderful insightful post.
    Yes, I agree that the jammy thing is wonderful.

  5. I've been considering an online writing group, and this information was encouraging and exactly what I needed. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Lisa, Kelly, The Desert Rocks, Tia - glad you found this helpful and informative, or validating your own online writing group experience.

    Nancy, thanks again for your post!