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Faith Imagined: Starting a Writers' Group

Faith Imagined

Alisa Hope Wagner: Christian Writer

January 29, 2010

Starting a Writers' Group

I started leading a writing group at my church about four years ago, and I am amazed by what God has done. Admittedly, my first inclination was to start a reading group, but our women’s ministry already had one. My women’s minister suggested that I start a devotional writing group. I shrugged my shoulders and said, “Sure.”

Before this time, I had never written a devotional or led a writing group. I look back now and wonder, “What was I thinking? What made me think that I could create and lead a writing group?”

Luckily, I didn’t allow doubt and fear to kill God’s plan. God Knew what He was doing even if I didn’t, and I know that my act of faith has changed my life and has helped shine the light of Jesus to a lost world.

The Granola Bar Devotional Writing Ministry started as a small group of five women in my house. Now, this ministry has readers and writers from across the globe. In the beginning, the ministry was very fragile. I wanted to give up several times, and I'd hate to think about what would have happened if I called it quits.

For this reason, I want to encourage others who feel led by the Holy Spirit to start a writing group. The path of starting a writing group is different for each person, but I believe there are a few core principles that apply to everyone. I’ve gone on to use these principles in starting and leading many other writing ventures.

1) Be obedient to God’s will and way. Create a blueprint and purpose for your writing group, but be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading. Don’t be surprised if your writing group takes several turns and morphs into many new creations.

2) Start locally and start small. One of the best ways to start a writing group is with a handful of people around you. Invest time and energy into the lives of your writers, and your group’s roots will become strong. Once you have a solid group, God will slowly expand and grow it.

3) Don’t be a grammar know it all. Yes, it is important for the writing to look polished; however, much of grammar is subjective. Do your best to proof everything, but don’t get consumed by it – it will steal your joy. Allow your writers to have their own style, and don’t make changes unless the writing hinders the content and confuses the reader. Remember, God works His perfect will even through our imperfections. You will not catch every mistake, and that fact will keep you humble.

4) You will do the bulk of the work. Starting a writing group is not easy. Most of your work will be done behind the scenes, and your writers may not fully be aware of all you do. You can delegate a few things, but your writers will focus mainly on meeting deadlines and soliciting other writers. Though your responsibility is heavy, your reward will be great. God will make changes in you that you never thought possible, so be prepared!

5) Keep the emphasis on the audience. Your writers will most assuredly develop their craft while working in your group, but they need a higher purpose to keep them motivated. Always remind them that they are changing lives for Christ with their words. Whether they touch the life of one or the lives of millions, they are growing the kingdom of God.

6) Stay humble, but confident. If you feel unqualified to lead a group, find confidence in your anointing. If God has called you to start a group, you will become qualified over time. However, you must stay humble or else you will not gain knowledge. You do not have to act like you know everything because you don’t. Your writers will appreciate your honesty, and you will establish a learning atmosphere for your group.

7) Don’t give up! The beginning of every new creation is the most precarious. Stay in God’s Word and make time to consult with the Holy Spirit. There should be a “Holy Ease” in the process of starting your group. If you are frustrated and overwhelmed, you might be taking the wheel and putting God in the backseat. Let God lead and save yourself wasted time, energy and resources.

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Blogger Tracy said...

Hey Alisa! What do you recommend for a friendly grammar reference? I have been looking for one, but I would trust your input.

BTW, have I told you how amazing your ministry is lately? I just love your passion for writing. It is contagious.

12:15 PM  
Blogger Jean said...

Very interesting and informative, Alisa. Thanks.

I've been toying with the idea of starting a group at church for writing memoirs. Sounds like fun to me, but very time consuming.


4:34 PM  
Blogger Little M said...

I'm not really sure what a Christian or devotional writing group means. Do you write fiction? Or primarily insights or articles to share with the group? Maybe I'm missing something!? Sounds cool though!

6:00 PM  
Blogger Joan said...


Great tips! I began co-leading a writers group last summer. We are still in the learning process, but it is amazing how God has brought different people to our group. Some write poetry, some fiction, others inspirational and devotions. One lady has taught creative writing and is a very good editor.

I'll share your tips with my co-leader (or better yet, direct her to your blog).

Looking forward to First Friday Fiction next week. I'm working on a story to post.


7:44 PM  
Blogger Stuff could always be worse said...

Yes I would love to go to one, I need the writing tips, etc. I do not feel I am a writer, just trying!

8:30 PM  
Blogger Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Alisa -

I've been going to a local writers group for about five years. They've given me information on conferences, the publishing industry, and critiqued my work. Best of all, I've made some wonderful friends.

Susan :)

8:36 PM  
Blogger Deb said...

I would so love to get together with some face-to-face writers.

But I don't know of anyone in my area who's interested in writing.

And I don't write fiction.

Still, your enthusiasm makes me imagine that maybe I could start a writing group.

Sweet dreams.

9:37 PM  
Blogger Holly said...

Ok, I had several excuses available to me as to why I'm unqualified to do this, until I read your wise words.

I kaint spell to save muh life, and my husband has to edit everything I write, 'cause I get really excited when I type and tend to leave out.

But then you had to write, "Stay humble, but confident. If you feel unqualified to lead a group, find confidence in your anointing."

Yes, mam.

11:34 PM  
Blogger Karen Lange said...

Great tips! Thanks so much. Have thought about starting a Christian writer's group in my area. I especially appreciate the one - telling people to expect to do most of the work. I've learned this from experience with other groups, depending on what the focus is. If you head into the venture knowing this, it is helpful.

11:18 AM  
Blogger Kristen Torres-Toro said...

That is a great idea!

A good friend of mine started a writing group years ago and through that, I was so encouraged to keep writing--and I was reunited with another dear writing friend. I'm so thankful for those short years in the group. The friend who started it passed away in 2006, and we didn't meet after that.

11:52 AM  
Blogger Gaia said...

There is no occasion to form such a group, but hmm I might just give fiction a try. I am not a writer but it could be kinda fun. Thanks for sharing dear. Blessings.

4:46 PM  
Anonymous Rhodema @ MommyLife said...

Thank you for your encouragement and ideas on writing groups. At my first writing conference, the leader predicted that if we didn't join a writing group we wouldn't keep writing.

It took me 3 writing conferences and a few restarts to finally get on track with a writing group and consistant writing progress.

A few friends and I startd a writing group at our church last year. Going great!!

12:57 AM  
Blogger chili pepper said...

writing has been such a blessing in my life. It has been therapy through hard times, a way to speak to God, a way to witness and reach out to others and a way to record our family history. Sharing that gift even more so. Nice to meet you!

7:43 PM  
Blogger Andrea said...

Hope you don't mind. I just added your blog link to arise 2 write.

3:41 PM  
Blogger OceanDreams said...

I love to write - I just to make more time to do so. I have too many hobbies right now, ha ha. :) You are very inspiring though.

1:56 PM  
Blogger Mom of Many said...

What a great idea! You always hear of reading groups, but I've never heard of a writing group. This past Friday Follow was my first. I'm so glad I stumbled upon it because I now have a terrific new Christian blogger to follow. In Christ...

12:26 PM  

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