As much as I love words, I also love people. I’ve found a way to satisfy both these loves by organizing three types of writing events. The Eastside Writing Room, Writers Lunch and Writers Read combine support for the writing life along with entertainment and writing feedback.

Eastside Writing RoomThe Eastside Writing Room is patterned after the International Women’s Writing Guild’s original Kitchen Table groups aka Zip Code Parties. It’s a gathering for a writing purpose with the members capped at what can fit around a kitchen table. The purpose of my group is to provide writing time—in a calm, quiet, and supportive environment. Other groups may focus on critique, which can also be organized in a myriad of ways.

Our Writing Room meets weekly for 2 hours at one of four locations in the geographic area of our members. Location is key to support the formula of having only 10-15 minutes of driving to get to the house. Why waste time driving when you could be writing? Ten minutes of writing talk during which members state their writing intention for the two hours we are together and then writing on personal projects—longhand, computer etc. The hostess acts as facilitator to lead the intention go-around and keep track of time. This type of writing group has built-in accountability, and no excuses for not writing.

Writers LunchWriters Lunch is a 90-minute eating meeting for writers. As organizer/facilitator I set up occasional lunches at local restaurants for writers to share successes, projects, conferences, anything involving the writing life.

Local Arizona writers who share a love of words, writing, and supporting writing endeavors are welcome. We are a diverse group with common goals—to encourage each other to keep writing, and to share our work with each other and the public.

Pre-lunch. Find a local restaurant with a private room and allowing separate checks for lunch. RSVP is necessary so the organizer can make reservations. The facilitator arrives about 15 minutes earlier than stated time. Stay in touch with the restaurant and give final count three days before the lunch.

Lunchtime. We do have a general agenda. We start on time with a welcome and stating the purpose – to share ideas, events, and food! There’s a go-around of intros, business cards passed around too and a side table where writers can lay out flyers, books for sale. Writers are responsible for any book sales transaction. Following the intros, lunch orders are taken while there is open conversation.

After orders taken, topic suggestions are taken for discussion. Our purpose is to share ideas so there is no cross talk. We are not gathering to debate. Suggested topics: telling about local writing groups or events/conferences/contests; techniques for revision/ drafts; what stops you from writing; what gets you revved for writing; copy edit tips; discussion of developmental editing; possibilities for publication, and marketing- social media, organic, content and conversion marketing. We have had guest speakers who share on a topic for @20 min. and then discussion and Q&A.

The facilitator may need to establish an order of who will be talking so everyone gets a turn, with a diplomatic reminder that we are sharing ideas and our time. The facilitator makes sure the checks arrive about 10 minutes before the close of the meeting, closes the meeting on time (although some folks hang around to talk some more), and thanks the server post-meeting.

Lunches have provided beginning and first book writers with much needed support and encouragement; seasoned writers connect with writers of the same genre, and at similar steps of the writing process.

Our next Writers Lunch is Monday, June 29 12:00-1:30 PM at Los Agaves Restaurant in Green Valley AZ. RSVP

Writers Read 6/15Writers Read is an entertaining forum for the public at local coffee shops. Many coffee shops have less business in the evening and have been willing to stay open and even set up a special Writers Menu to fit our general theme. I’ve found 90 minutes is just enough time for entertaining and thought-provoking literary essays, stories and readings with a theme by six, seven, or eight authors.

This is a marketing event with no cost for marketing. Local writers read their own original work published or unpublished, bring business cards and books to sell.

This is not an open mic. Writers contact the organizer with their story idea and receive suggestions for reading aloud. The organizer sets the order of readers, does a welcome at starting time, introduces each reader, and leads the applause as they come up to the speaking area. Orders for food are taken at the counter and staff has been very considerate in serving food. Expresso machines can be a distraction but we have a portable mic system that is great for reading. Each writer has about 8 minutes to read. Timing is strictly adhered to with a designated timer using color cards.

Writers Read is a blend of performance and reading so it requires some animation and eye contact with the audience. Writers Read in Tucson is getting more and more submissions for the events, which is a happy consequence of success. I’ve begun to really vet authors to get a variety of genres and levels of presentation. This event walks a fine line between marketing and entertainment. Not all writers are great readers; I provide suggestions for reading aloud (e me if you’d like a copy of the suggestion doc). We may be offering a rehearsal time a few days before to gear up for public presentations.

As moderator, I give a short intro (3 sentences which the reader provides before) for each reader with the title of the piece and warm up the audience with a bit about why we do this, then a “Please give a warm welcome to…,” followed by enthusiastic applause at the close of each piece.

About halfway through, there is a time for brief shameless promotion where readers can share writing successes or upcoming events.

Readers do double duty by marketing the event, I email a flyer with the info, and we put it out on our websites and post on facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, etc.

Audience response has been very positive: “Nice to have something like this in our community.” “Never knew there were so many writers around here.” “How can I be a reader?” And, proprietors have asked us back.

Arizona authors bring an eclectic mix of word play to the public. We bring something for everyone in the audience. Our next Writers Read is Thursday, Sept. 24 6:30-8:00 PM at BREWD in Tucson, AZ. Contact me if you are interested.

So there you have it–ways to combine your mostly solitary writing time with people. I hope this inspires you to set up your own version of a writing event. Let me know if have any questions, or want to tell me about a Writing Group, Writers Lunch, or Writers Read in your area.