Guidelines for safe, fun and productive workshopping for writers (part 1) – practicalities


It’s the start of 2019, you know this year’s the year. It’s time to write!

So what do you need to make it a happen?

  • A room of one’s own? Or at least a space at the table! (Love a good metaphor!)

  • Allocated time – regular, non-negotiable

  • A compassionate attitude towards yourself. (If you don’t meet your own expectations, know that you can always begin again.)

  • Trusted support.

It’s the trusted support that we’re turning to today, based on a presentation that I and my cosy writers’ group gave to Daylesford’s Words in Winter. We believe we have something special and wanted to share what we feel we’ve learnt over the years.

On this note we present: Guidelines for Safe, Fun and Productive Workshopping for Writers!

The practicalities

1. To determine your ideal number of members, consider:

  • Size of venue/s

  • Frequency of submissions – Will you critique everyone’s work every time?

  • Length of submissions – How much can you read before each meeting?

  • Duration of discussions.

2. Decide on genre/s.

Do you want to exclude any genres? (Limiting yourself to one or two can keep you focused, but bear in mind that reading others’ work in different genres can bring fresh perspectives to your own work.)

3. Select members with similar levels of seriousness, skill and productivity.

4. Choose a quiet and private venue/s. Cater by host/roster.

5. Meeting frequency

How often will you meet? How long will you meet for? What time of the day and week suits best? Set your meeting dates months ahead and stick to them.

6. Submit in advance.

E.g. by email, 1 week before meeting, because it saves meeting time for verbal feedback and discussion, and allows individuals to form opinions without influence from the group. (You can always change your mind when you get into a hearty discussion about stuff that matters!)

7. Return a clearly marked copy of the work to the author.

8. Be reliable, yet flexible.

If you have any ideas to add to this contribution, please do.

May your words pour onto the page,


Photograph by Juanita Broderick.

This blog was born from a presentation with fellow writers group members: Vivienne Ulmann, Rebecca Colless, Mary Delahunty and Ilka Tampke at the Words in Winter Festival, 2018. Here's the podcast of the event.