While writing is often a solitary activity, humans are social creatures—and writers are no exception.
Writing groups can help writers remain productive, share their work, and get honest feedback, all for free. Participating in writing communities is, without a doubt, invaluable to writers, and that's probably why writing groups have been around since writing itself.
Well-known writing communities have been established since 400 BC and continue to be established to this day. We've compiled a list of writing groups throughout history that demonstrate comradery at its best—the original #SquadGoals—along with their contemporary counterparts so you can participate in the fun by joining an elite group of writers to call your squad.
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1. The Socrates School (Est. 400 BC)
The Socrates School, established sometime around 400 BC, included devoted teacher Socrates and his loyal students Plato, Xenophon, and others. With a focus on life's big questions, the Socrates School made important contributions to philosophical thought.
Modern Equivalent: Academic Writing Club
Like the Socrates School, the Academic Writing Club concentrates on honing academic thought in a community of experts and peers. Both clubs prove that academic work is a lot more enjoyable when a sense of comradery is established.
2. The Junto (Est. 1727)
Benjamin Franklin's club, known as the Junto, was established to help members focus on self-improvement. With various debates and knowledge exchanges involving a variety of topics, the members were diverse in occupation, age, and background but still met regularly to share their writing.
Modern Equivalent: Scribophile
Dubbed "The Writing Group for Serious Writers," Scribophile is an online community of writers that does not shy away from thoughtful critique. Like the Junto, writers of all skill levels are welcome to join to share their writing as well as their critiques of other writers' works.
3. The Bloomsbury Group (Est. 1905)
With famous writers like Virginia Woolf and E.M. Forster, The Bloomsbury Group was a writing club of English writers and other intellectuals that worked in London. They often met informally during the first half of the twentieth century to share their ideas.
Modern Equivalent: Writers' Guild of Great Britain
Though the Writers' Guild of Great Britain is a diverse group of writers (from writers of television to books to videogames), this writing group shares the common link of geography like the Bloomsbury Group. In addition, members can benefit from support and advice from fellow members.
4. The Dill Pickle Club (Est. 1917)
This hole-in-the-wall writing club was frequented by popular writers like Sherwood Anderson and William Carlos Williams. It was a forum that gave writers the freedom of experimentation and allowed them to share plays, poetry readings, dances, and more.
Modern Equivalent: Deep Underground Poetry
Also established as an underground spot, Deep Underground Poetry affords freedom to its writers with the aim of allowing them to push their boundaries. Like the Dill Pickle Club, this writing community is a platform for sharing poetry of all forms but also focuses on allowing its writers to socialize.
5. Stratford-on-Odeon (Est. 1920)
So nicknamed by James Joyce, Stratford-on-Odeon was a bookstore called Shakespeare and Company located in Paris. The store turned into a hub for famous writers like Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein, and F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Modern Equivalent: Inked Voices
Inked Voices connects writers, allowing writing groups with similar interests or goals to collaborate intimately. Like Stratford-on-Odeon, it is both a platform for writing groups and a space for writers to work on pieces of writing as a team.
6. Los Contemporáneos (Est. 1920)
Los Contemporáneos, a group of contemporary Mexican writers, shared common interests in both art and culture. They were eager to modernize not only literature but also their surrounding culture and bring their visions to life through publication.
Modern Equivalent: SouthWest Writers
SouthWest Writers, located in New Mexico, is devoted to helping both published and unpublished writers. They offer contests, critiques, groups, workshops, and more; like Los Contemporáneos, the group allows writers to share their writing professionally.
7. The Inklings (Est. 1930)
The Inklings was a group of writers, including J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, that read and discussed one another's work. They had regular meetings, and while they generally focused on fantasy writing, there were no official rules to confine its writers.
Modern Equivalent: WritersCafe
WritersCafe allows writers to share their writing (of any type) and receive feedback from other writers. Focusing on the community aspects of writing, this group shares similar values to those of the Inklings, who worked together to shape Tolkien's famous The Lord of the Rings.
8. The South Side Writers' Group (Est. 1930)
A group for African American writers and poets, the South Side Writers' Group included over 20 writers who focused on realism. This writing club prioritized collaboration, allowing writers to not only give one another feedback but also to receive support for their writing.
Modern Equivalent: African American Literature Book Club
As noted by the African American Literature Book Club, the main missions of this writing club are not unlike those of The South Side Writers' Group; they include allowing writers to express themselves and providing a forum for the exchange of opinions on Black literature and culture.
9. The February House (Est. 1940)
The February House was known as a location that fostered creativity, as famous writers including W.H. Auden, Carson McCullers, and others composed many of their iconic works there. The house was a writing community consisting of creatives with a passion to produce works of art.
Modern Equivalent: Gotham Writers Workshop
As stated on the site, "Gotham Writers Workshop is a creative home in New York City and Online where writers develop their craft and come together in the spirit of discovery and fellowship." This spirit is not unlike that of the February House; in addition, the physical location allows writers to come together and enjoy a creative space.
10. The Factory (Est. 1962)
Not only exclusive to writers, the Factory was also a workspace for experimental artists and other types of creators. The venue was Andy Warhol's studio, which doubled as a meeting, work, and party space for famous figures including Salvador Dali, Allen Ginsberg, and Bob Dylan.
Modern Equivalent: NaNoWriMo
Like the explosion of creativity and wild spirit of the Factory, NaNoWriMo (which takes its name from National Novel Writing Month) draws on the fun and chaos in its members' creative mission to draft a novel in a month. With the notion that objects in motion stay in motion, both writing communities focus on a frenzy of creativity to produce mass volumes of work.
Whether you're a writer or a poet, there's a writing group for you. Whether you're looking to get feedback on your writing or just want to share your work, you'll fit in. Whether you want to socialize regularly at a set location or are hoping to pop in and out of an online writing community, there's a place for you.
The writing communities listed here are just a few of the writing groups you can find online and in person. Many others specialize across genres, locations, age groups, communities, genders, languages, and more, so don't be afraid to do some digging to find the squad for you!
Image source: Brodie Vissers/Stocksnap.io
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Jes is a magician and a mechanic; that is to say, she creates pieces of writing from thin air to share as a writer, and she cleans up the rust and grease of other pieces of writing as an editor. She knows that there's always something valuable to be pulled out of a blank page or something shiny to be uncovered in one that needs a little polishing. When Jes isn't conjuring or maintaining sentences, she's devouring them, always hungry for more words.