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Visual Poetry

Make your writing shine with feedback from other writers

You’ve spent a lot of time writing your story. But how can you make it perfect before you start thinking about publishing?

Scribophile is a writing group focused on getting you feedback on your manuscript. — in fact, we’re one of the largest online writing groups out there. Our points-based peer critique system guarantees you’ll get feedback from writers from all walks of life. You can then use that feedback to polish your writing before you take the next step in your publishing journey.

How Scribophile works

1 earn points by giving feedback.

Earn karma points by critiquing writing. Giving feedback to group members is fast, easy, fun, and helps improve your own writing, too!

2 Get feedback on your own writing

Spend karma points to post your own writing for critique from our writing community — anything from flash fiction to novels. Our writer’s group will give you detailed feedback on how to improve it, regardless of your specific genre, and all in a supportive environment.

3 Make friends and meet beta readers

As you participate in our writing group, you’ll meet and form relationships with many different kinds writers. They’ll become your inspiration, your encouragement, and even your beta readers, ready to help with your current manuscript, and your next ones too!

Scribophile was the first place I stopped when I went from being an I-wanna-be-a-writer to I-am-an-author. Now I have four international bestselling novels with major publishers, and when authors come to me I always send them to Scribophile. Genevieve Graham Tides of Honour and others published with Simon & Schuster

Join writing workshops and level up your writing

Our writing workshops are taught by bestselling authors, expert teachers, and industry insiders. We have workshops for writers of any skill level, where we cover everything from beginning topics to advanced techniques.

Our writing workshops are designed to be both comprehensive and transformational — they’re your fast track to leveling up your writing.

Some of our upcoming writing workshops

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Enhancing Your Writing By Engaging All the Senses with David D. Levine

May 25, 2024 • 2 hour webinar

Hugo- and Nebula-award-winning author David D. Levine shows you the methods and techniques master writers use to draw readers in by engaging all of their senses.

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Writing Action Scenes That Will Leave Readers Breathless with Carly Stevens

Jun 1, 2024 • 1 hour webinar with instructor feedback on your writing

Acclaimed author Carly Stevens teaches you how to write propulsive and impactful action scenes.

Our writing group welcomes writers of any skill level

Our writing group welcomes writers of all skill levels — from beginners to published authors, and every writer in between.

Each critique you receive on your manuscript is a fresh perspective for you to incorporate. Our bustling writing forums feature writers discussing the craft twenty-four hours a day — share inspiration, ignite your creativity, get support, and connect with others no matter your genre. Plus, our extensive Writing Academy is full of insightful articles on the art — and business — of writing.

Scribophile played a major part in helping me polish my novel for submission. I learnt a huge amount from critiquing other people’s work, as well as from reading critiques of mine. I now have a wonderful agent and have signed a three-book deal in the UK, a two-book deal in Germany, and a TV option. The book was also shortlisted for The Debut Dagger! Roz Watkins The Devil’s Dice and others published with HarperCollins
Giving and receiving critiques on Scribophile made a big difference to the quality of my writing. I learned how to write a query letter here and that led to an agent and a book deal. Ruth Lauren Prisoner of Ice and Snow and others published with Bloomsbury

No more writing alone — meet your new community

Sometimes, the hardest part of the writing process is how lonely it can get.

That’s why the most important part of Scribophile is our community of hundreds of thousands of writers from all over the world. No matter what genre you work in, or how far along you are in your manuscript, the friends you make at Scribophile will give encouragement, accountability, and will finally take the loneliness out of our solitary craft.

My years on Scribophile have given me a master’s level education in writing. The critiques are great, but I’ve learned as much from reading and analyzing other writers on Scribophile. I don’t think I could have polished my novel to a publishable level without this site. I’m an addict. Laura Creedle The Love Letters of Abelard and Lily published with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Ready to take the next step in your writing journey?

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Largest creative writing groups, screenwriting workshop with award winning screenwriter.

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Blog • Perfecting your Craft , Understanding Publishing

Posted on Nov 19, 2018

15 of the Best Online Writing Communities for Aspiring Authors

As enjoyable and fulfilling as writing can be, the truth is that it’s often a solitary endeavor. While we might romanticize the focused artist typing away while imaginary worlds and narratives swirl inside their minds — authors know the truth: writing can get lonely. And moreover, when you’re working on a one-person project, it can be hard to remain motivated and accountable. That’s where writing communities come in.

Writing communities are the perfect place to find answers to your writing questions and to discuss the ins and outs of the writing life with people who actually understand what you’re talking about.

So, if you are tired of listening only to the voices in your head, take a look at our list of top online writing communities. (And if you're hungry for more, check out our more exhaustive list of the very best writing websites !)

Top online writing communities

1. absolute write water cooler.

With over 68,000 members, this is a large and highly active community. Here you can find threads on every genre imaginable, as well as discussions about freelance writing , the publishing industry, pop culture, writing prompts and exercises, and much more.

Perfect for: writers who are looking for a large and active community.

2. AgentQuery Connect

While this forum will come in handy for any writer, it’s especially helpful for authors who have already completed their manuscript and are wondering what to do next. The site boasts a wealth of information on publishing topics such as querying agents, self-publishing tips, and book promotion advice.

Perfect for: writers who are looking to connect with agents and learn more about the publishing industry.

3. Camp NaNoWriMo

If you’ve ever wanted to go to a writer’s retreat but can’t afford it just yet, then this site might help scratch your itch. Holding online “camp sessions” in April and July, Camp NaNoWriMo offers a digital space to encourage and empower writers at any point of their career. Here you can work on drafts, revisions, short stories, or any other writing project that involves word-count goals.

Perfect for: writers who can’t wait until November to crack their writing goals .

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4. Critique Circle

Feedback should be a vital part of any writer’s process, and this is exactly what Critique Circle offers. This members-only site allows authors to post stories in exchange for feedback on other people’s writing. You can also find storyboarding tools , writing prompts , workshops, name generators , games like hangman, and much more.

Perfect for: writers who want honest feedback on their writing.

5. Chronicles

As the world’s largest Science Fiction and Fantasy online community, Chronicles offers writers the opportunity to get together and discuss the latest books, news, and pop culture in the Sci-Fi and Fantasy world. This is an active community with thousands of threads that include genre-specific challenges, workshops, critiques, and even publishing and industry information.

Perfect for: writers interested in Science Fiction and Fantasy writing.

6. Facebook Groups

If social media is more your style, don't miss the chance to interact with your fellow writers by joining Facebook groups in your own niche. Look for groups with a strict "no self-promotion" rules so that it remains supportive and useful to your writing goals.

There are a lot of groups out there in a variety of topics that range from genre-specific writing tips to traditional and self-publishing industry news. Here are just a few of them:

The Street Team — Reedsy's own book marketing group for self-publishing authors. 10 Minute Novelists — a group for the time-crunched writer. Calls for Submissions  — for writers looking for publication opportunities. Fiction Writers Global — a great resource for information about traditional and self-publishing. Writers Unite! — an active group with plenty of support and motivation for novice and experienced writers alike.

Perfect for: writers who prefer using social media.



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7. Insecure Writer’s Support Group

Whether you are a debut or seasoned author, there’s no doubt that writing a book can be intimidating and rife with bouts of self-doubt. The Insecure Writer’s Support Group aims to help you overcome those insecurities by hosting a community of like-minded authors.

Perfect for: writers who have doubts about their writing and are in need of encouragement.

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8. The Next Big Writer

This is an international forum where writers can receive feedback on their writing and support on every other part of the creative process from drafting to publishing and marketing. The critiques are often thorough and many come from published authors. Keep in mind that there is a monthly cost associated with the membership, but it might be worth it to be able to bend the ear of published authors.

Perfect for: writers seeking in-depth critiques from an international audience.

If you struggle to write consistently, sign up for our How to Write a Novel course to finish a novel in just 3 months.  



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More than just a single writing community, Reddit has countless ‘subreddits’ where writers of all genres, interests, and levels of experience flock. While it may not offer workshops or tools, members can find niche threads that relate to their interests, critique other people’s work, and discover helpful sources of information.

There are so many different subreddits that you can get lost browsing them, but here are a few of the most popular ones:

r/writing — for general writing purposes. r/writingprompts — for user-submitted writing prompts. r/destructivereaders — beware, if you don’t like harsh criticism this may not be the best fit. But if you are willing to endure it, you will come out a better writer at the end. r/worldbuilding — user submitted fiction worlds. r/fantasywriters — for anybody interested in the fantasy genre. r/characterforge — the place to be for character building. r/writerchat — for those interested in talking with fellow writers. r/selfpublish — for anybody interested in self-publishing. r/logophilia — “the love of words and word games,” and that’s exactly what you’ll find here. r/freelanceWriters — for anybody interested in a career in freelance writing . r/books — because reading is just as important as writing if you want to be a successful author.

Perfect for: writers who want niche threads based on a particular interest or need.

10. Scribophile

One of the largest communities in the world, Scribophile offers workshops, tutorials, and critiques for authors in just about any genre imaginable. While it is free to join, only users who pay for a membership get access to all their features.

Perfect for: authors whowant to take part in writing workshops alongside writers of all experience levels.

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11. She Writes

With over 30,000 members, this is the largest writing community exclusively for women. Here you can find articles on writing, editing, and marketing for every genre. There are forums tailored to specific needs, like travel writers, writing about trauma, NaNoWriMo, and many other topics.

Perfect for: women writers who want a place to connect and learn from fellow writers.

12. Talentville

If your passion lies in screenwriting, then you’ll want to book a one-way ticket to Talentville. Here you can get feedback on your writing and learn the skills necessary to perfect your screencraft. Plus, you can work on and build your network of contacts: the site is also a frequent stop for industry professionals (like agents, managers, and producers) on the lookout for new talent.

Perfect for: writers whoare interested in screenwriting and networking.

13. Underlined

A writing community by Penguin Random House. While any author can find helpful information on this website, it’s geared more towards younger writers. It has a well-designed platform, quizzes, genre-specific information, the latest news on book releases, Q&As with authors, and even some giveaways and excerpts as perks.

Perfect for: younger writers who are looking for genre-specific information and bookish perks.

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14. Writers Helping Writers

This is a free-to-register community where you can find resources for writers, teachers, and editors alike. They offer a vast array of tools to perfect your craft, no matter your level. Their extensive creative library includes webinars, free writing and marketing tools, a thesaurus collection, story maps, idea generators, and more.

Perfect for: writers, editors, and teachers who are looking to build up their writing toolbox.

15. #WritingCommunity

Sometimes, all you need is a hashtag. And indeed, Twitter's own #WritingCommunity is one of the most robust writing collectives on the web. Ask a question, and it'll almost certainly get answered (without a lot of Twitter's trademark snark). The key here is to keep your questions concise, reply often to others, and don't go crazy with other hashtags. The community can tell if you're just thirsty for RTs. Perfect for: writers who are finally ready to use Twitter for good — and not just for procrastinating.

Do you belong to a writing community? Which one is your favorite one? Add yours in the comments below!

13 responses

27/11/2018 – 22:42

Very useful post. Thanks for this. I will be linking to it on my blog.

Dr Jack Edward Effron says:

18/02/2019 – 16:40

You left out taylz.com. It’s truly free. They are not going to give you a rubbish service to make you join their pay site because they have no pay site. Your story can be 8,000 words. They are not going to force you into flash fiction of 3,000 words. One critique out, one critique in: no mucking about with “karma” or critiquing 5+ stories to get one critique. The great new idea whose time has come! And it’s British, not American.

marieseltenrych says:

08/05/2019 – 12:28

Reedsy, thank God you are here! I want to ask a question to other authors or self publishers here: I have been approached by OmniScriptum to publish my books (research) with them. I cannot find much about this company online, so wondered if anyone has published with them recently? Thanks Reedsy in anticipation. Marie

↪️ Reedsy replied:

08/05/2019 – 12:29

Hi Marie! Sounds potentially very shady to me. If you haven't already, check out our post on predatory companies in publishing. One of the rules of thumb is that if a publisher contacts you first, be very wary. I just did 20 seconds worth of Googling and found some people who had a bad experience.

Eunice Brownlee says:

I am a member of illuminate, which is a group designed around supporting women who want to share their stories but don't know how. The majority of us write non-fiction essays and memoirs, but we have a few poets and fiction writers in the mix as well. The overall goal is to support each other, especially through those harder moments of not wanting to write, or not knowing where to start. There are monthly themes and prompts, a weekly exercise inside the Facebook group, and cross-sharing of what we're working on. My favorite feature is the expert review, where you can submit any piece you're working on each month and you'll get quality feedback from one of the editors that manage the group. This group is perfect for anyone who is just getting started writing.

↪️ Brittani B replied:

11/02/2020 – 19:27

I tried the link multiple times both from this page and separately searched and was unable to access the site.

Harry says:

05/06/2019 – 07:51

Personally I think you missed out the best writing community: https://community.jerichowriters.com/ Jericho Writers is a free writing community that writers can safely share thought, make friends, swap work and get advice

Christian says:

08/08/2019 – 12:21

I only recommend Scribophile if you enjoy being coerced into groupthink. If you hope to get meaningful critique that will help you, look elsewhere. The critiques here are mostly SPAG, and it's forbidden to discuss your work on the main forums, except in the broadest, vaguest way.

Randy says:

18/08/2019 – 06:11

I have all my dads writing research and copyrights to 18 different books....all this was before the digital world .... many negatives photos ....every major story from all over the world with his .copyright . These are huge stores and his books are really well written ....what should I do with them .....incredible spy work as well

Ratih says:

27/08/2019 – 03:50

As a new writer this article is really useful for me. Thank you reedsy

Jennifer says:

02/09/2019 – 14:15

Hi guys! Great blog! Just wanted to let you know that we linked to you in a blog on the Peaceful Living Wellness Online Magazine :) It will be published on Friday, September 6th, 2019

↪️ Martin Cavannagh replied:

17/09/2019 – 09:04

Thanks! We appreciate that!

Kaylee Downey says:

14/02/2020 – 19:09

Um...what about Wattpad?

Comments are currently closed.

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The Writing Center • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Activities for Writing Groups

Touching base.

Mutual support can be one of the most important functions of a writing group. Sometimes encouragement and the knowledge that others are interested in and committed to your work and your progress as a writer can be just as helpful as feedback. To that end, your writing group may want to reserve some time in each session to “touch base” or “check in” with one another. During this time you could:

  • Describe your writing activities since the last group meeting in terms of pages written, parts of a project completed, or hurdles overcome.
  • If you haven’t written much since the last meeting, you could talk about the kinds of pre-writing activities you have undertaken (research, reading, editing previous work, meeting with a professor or advisor, etc.). Or you could talk about the obstacles to writing that have hindered your progress (writer’s block, having a big exam this week, needing to gather more data before you can write, etc.).
  • Explain how work that was discussed during the last meeting is now evolving in response to group comments. You might explain which comments you chose to act on, or tell how a section of the piece has been reorganized or rethought in response to the group’s feedback.
  • Share your writing plans for the coming week or two so that your group members will know what kinds of writing they will see and so that you can help one another stick to your goals.
  • Decide, as a group, on a theme for the next meeting—brainstorming, drafting, proofreading, style, writer’s block, etc. Choosing a writing issue to tackle together will help you understand the challenges each member is facing at the moment and enable you to plan meetings that will help group members meet those challenges.

Systems for sharing work

Some writing groups ask members to distribute their work in advance of the group meeting, particularly if the piece of writing in question is lengthy. Internet-based file-sharing platforms make it easy to share files, and groups can choose a platform that will offer their members the appropriate level of access and security. Standardized file-naming conventions will help members locate documents easily, e.g., consistently naming folders by Date_Name of writer (11.14.20_Maria or Nov. 14 Maria).

Responding to work that you read outside of the group

The following ideas might help you respond to work that has been distributed beforehand:

  • Group members could write comments and suggest editorial changes on their copies of the paper and give those to the writer during the group meeting.
  • Group members could prepare a written response to the paper in the form of a letter to the writer, a paragraph, a written discussion of the work’s strengths and weaknesses, or on a form developed by the group. See the Responding to Other People’s Writing worksheet in this packet for a helpful model.
  • Group members could respond verbally to the piece, each offering a personal, overall reaction to writing before opening the discussion to a broader give-and-take.
  • You could go through the piece paragraph-by-paragraph or section-by-section, with each reader offering comments and suggestions for improvement.
  • The author could come prepared with a list of questions for the group and lead a discussion based on those questions.
  • One group member, either the author or (perhaps preferably) a different member of the group, could keep careful notes on key reactions and suggestions for the author’s future reference.

Responding to writing presented during the group meeting

Some groups prefer to bring writing, particularly shorter pieces, to the group meeting for immediate discussion. You might bring a draft of an entire paper, a section of a paper, or just a sentence or two that you can’t seem to get “just right.” Many of the above ideas will work just as well for writing that has been presented during the meeting of the writing group. However, since writing presented during the meeting will be new to everyone except the author, you might try these additional strategies:

  • Read the paper aloud to the group before launching discussion. The author could read, or another member of the group could read while the author notes things that sound like they might need revision. You could either read the entire text or break it into chunks, discussing each after it is read.
  • Group members could also read silently, making notes to themselves, before launching the discussion.
  • Read the first paragraph or first section aloud and have everyone in the group briefly write down what they think the paper will be about or what they think the thesis of the paper is. Share those responses in discussion.

Sharing writing without the anticipation of feedback

Sometimes, especially with new writing or writers needing a boost of confidence, it can be helpful to share writing without anticipating feedback. This kind of sharing can help writers get over fears about distributing their work or being judged:

  • For writers undertaking long projects, sharing a piece can serve to show the rest of the group the progress made since the last meeting, even if the author doesn’t need feedback right now.
  • Sharing a piece of writing without expecting feedback can provide the writer with a deadline to work toward without generating anxieties over whether or not the piece is “good enough” to share.
  • Sharing writing early in a writing group’s work together can be a no-pressure way to get to know one another’s projects and writing styles.

Brainstorming as part of the group process

Writing groups can provide not only feedback and a forum in which to share work, but also creative problem-solving for your writing troubles. Your group might try some of these brainstorming ideas:

  • Have one group member identify a writing problem that needs to be solved. Ask each group member to free-write possible solutions.
  • Cut up a copy of a paper that needs organizational changes so that each section, main idea, or paragraph is on its own slip of paper. As a group, move the pieces of paper around and discuss possible options for reorganizing the work.
  • After reading a piece, generate a list of items that the group might like to know more about. Organize these questions into categories for the author to consider.

Writing during writing group meetings

Your writing group may choose to write during some of its meetings. Here are some ideas for what to write:

  • If everyone in the group has a major deadline approaching, use one session as a working meeting. Meet in a computer lab or other location in which everyone can write and work independently, taking breaks periodically to assess your progress or ask questions.
  • Use some writing group time to free-write about your writing project—new ideas, to-do lists, organizational strategies, problems, or sentences for your drafts would all be appropriate topics for free-writing.
  • Free-write about the writing process (you could all write about “How I start to write” or “The writing environment that works for me” or “When I sit down to edit…”) and share your responses with one another.
  • Write about the dynamics of the writing group as a way of getting everyone’s ideas out on paper. You could free-write about the kinds of feedback that help you, what you like about each other’s writing, your frustrations with the group, and your suggestions for improving the way the group works.
  • Spend a few minutes of each meeting practicing a new writing or editing technique you would like to explore.
  • See the Writing Exercises handout for more ideas.

Reading during writing group meetings

Just as writing during group meetings can prove beneficial, reading can sometimes help writing groups work together better:

  • Pick a book on writing such as Bird by Bird, Writing with Power, Writing Down the Bones, Writing Without Teachers, or Writing Your Dissertation in Fifteen Minutes a Day and assign yourselves sections to read for each meeting. Discuss the reading during some part of the group’s meeting each time.
  • Read about a particular writing topic such as editing techniques or writer’s block during the group meeting, and then spend the session working on that aspect of one another’s writing.
  • Bring a piece of writing (an article in your field, an article from a journal or magazine that you enjoyed, or a piece of fiction) that you think is especially well-written. Read over it as a group and talk about what the author did in the piece that made it so effective.
  • Bring pieces of data or evidence that you are using in your writing and share them with the group. If the group becomes familiar with the things that you write about, they may be better able to help you write about them effectively.

Bring in a guest

Just as guest lecturers in courses sometimes spice up the classroom experience, guests in writing groups can enliven the discussion:

  • Invite a friend’s writing group to have a joint meeting with yours. Share writing from all participants and also talk about writing group strategies that have worked for each group.
  • Invite a faculty member or other guest writer to your group to talk about their writing process and to offer suggestions for improving your own.
  • Bring in a friend who is working on a project related to the project of a group member. This may help your group member develop a network of people interested in their particular topic and may also show your friend how helpful a writing group could be.

Your writing group can also help you plan your writing schedule for the week:

  • Discuss your writing goals, both broadly and for the immediate future. Ask your group if those goals seem realistic.
  • Ask group members to e-mail you with reminders of deadlines and encouragement.
  • Create a group calendar in which you all set goals and deadlines for your writing. This calendar could be for a week, a month, a semester, a year, or more. The Writing Center publishes a planning calendar each semester.
  • Give each other writing “assignments” for the next meeting.

You may reproduce it for non-commercial use if you use the entire handout and attribute the source: The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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11 Online Writing Clubs That Foster Support Among Writers

by Kaelyn Barron | 3 comments

online writing clubs blog post image

Writing can be a lonely endeavor. Granted, a great deal of writers are self-proclaimed introverts, so all that time spent in solitude might not seem like an issue at first.

However, even the shiest writers will agree that one of the best ways to improve their craft is by getting feedback from others and talking through some of their big ideas.

That’s where the importance of writing clubs and communities comes into play. These groups offer support systems for writers of all levels, and the good news is that you don’t even need to leave your house to reap the benefits of membership! We’ve rounded up the best online writing clubs that unite writers across boundaries.

Online Writing Clubs and Communities

Below are 10 great online writing clubs and communities where writers can support one another from all around the world.

1. Critique Circle

Critique Circle is an online writing community where you can review other writers’ work and receive feedback on your own.

Start by critiquing a few submissions to earn credits, then use your credits to submit your own writing.

In addition to providing a safe, productive place for writers to exchange honest feedback, Critique Circle also offers storyboarding tools, writing prompts , workshops, name generators, fun games, and more.

Best for: Writers seeking to grow and improve their work with honest feedback.

2. Camp NaNoWriMo

If you don’t already know about NaNoWriMo , it’s “National Novel Writing Month,” a challenge that encourages writers to finally tackle the novel they’ve been meaning to write in just one month.

Each April and July, you can enroll in Camp NaNoWriMo to set your own writing goals (novel or not), create projects, and easily track your progress.

Once you’ve reached your goal and completed your project, the site will automatically confirm your success and you’ll receive a certificate to celebrate your achievement, plus other writing-related goodies.

Best for:  Writers who want to track their goals and progress.

3. Scribophile

Scribophile is one of the largest communities in the world where writers of all skill levels can participate in workshops, tutorials, and exchange critiques across all genres.

This community is perfect for writers in search of beta readers and advice on how to get published. Note that although it is free to join, only users who pay for a premium membership ($9/month) get access to all advanced features.

Best for:  Authors looking for beta readers.

4. She Writes

With over 34,000 members, She Writes is the largest writing community exclusively for women. The site offers insightful articles with helpful advice on writing, editing, promoting, and marketing books of every genre.

Here you’ll also find forums divided up based on specific niches, like travel writing, writing about personal experiences, NaNoWriMo, and many other subjects.

Best for:  Female writers looking to build connections and learn from fellow writers.

5. Chronicles

Chronicles is the world’s largest online community for science fiction and fantasy writers. The site offers dozens of forums where writers can discuss the latest news, book releases, and pop culture of the sci-fi and fantasy worlds.

There are thousands of active threads where writers exchange critiques, publishing advice, and even participate in genre-specific challenges.

Best for:  Writers of science fiction and fantasy.

6. Insecure Writer’s Support Group

Introverts aren’t exactly a minority among writers, and many tend to feel shy or insecure about showing their work to others.

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group aims to help writers of all experience levels overcome their self-doubt and insecurities by hosting this community of like-minded authors in a safe place for exchanging words of encouragement and constructive feedback.

Best for:  Shy or insecure writers in need of encouragement.

7. The Next Big Writer

The Next Big Writer is an international forum where writers can exchange feedback on their writing and support each other throughout every part of the creative journey, including the road to getting published.

Membership comes with a monthly cost of $8.95 , but critiques tend to be thorough, and many even come from published authors, so you may find the price worth it.

Best for:  Writers who want thorough feedback from a knowledgeable audience.

8. Underlined

Underlined is a writing community hosted by Penguin Random House. While the information and advice shared here is helpful to all authors, it tends to cater more to younger writers.

Members can take fun quizzes, get genre-specific tips, and read up on the latest publishing news. The community also hosts some fun giveaways.

Perfect for:  Younger writers in search of genre-specific advice.

9. Talentville

Talentville is an online community for aspiring screenwriters, designed to “give a voice to screenwriters everywhere who may lack insider connections but still share the dream of being produced.”

Members can get feedback on their writing, gain exposure, and learn the skills necessary to take their work to the big screen.

Best for:  Aspiring screenwriters looking to network.

10. Writers Helping Writers

Writers Helping Writers is a community where writers, teachers, and editors can all find helpful writing resources.

Their vast library includes webinars, marketing tools, story maps, idea generators, and more. It’s free to join and register.

Perfect for:  Writers, editors, and teachers looking for helpful writing tools.

11. Facebook Groups and Reddit

If you prefer using traditional social media outlets to meet like-minded writers, you can find plenty of Facebook groups for writers that cover a variety of topics and niches, including genre-specific tips and publishing advice.

In fact, TCK has our own Facebook group for writers that you can join to discuss all things writing and publishing-related, and grow together with others.

Likewise, Reddit has a myriad of ‘subreddits’ where writers of all niches and experience levels can gather to exchange advice, critique each other’s work, and offer support.

More Support for Writers

Even amidst a global pandemic, there are still countless ways for aspiring writers to stay connected and support one another.

Check out this list of online writers’ conferences scheduled for 2021, or learn how you can start your own writers’ group .

Are you a member of any writing clubs? Tell us about them in the comments below!

If you enjoyed this post, then you might also like:

  • How To Start A Writers’ Group
  • How to Start a Book Club: 4 Tips for Success
  • Online Writers’ Conferences and Virtual Workshops Scheduled for 2021
  • 8 Great Networking Apps for Writers

Kaelyn Barron

As a blog writer for TCK Publishing, Kaelyn loves crafting fun and helpful content for writers, readers, and creative minds alike. She has a degree in International Affairs with a minor in Italian Studies, but her true passion has always been writing. Working remotely allows her to do even more of the things she loves, like traveling, cooking, and spending time with her family.

Julie Memrick

Hello Friend,

I need some self publishing advice for the writing group of 18 seniors with whom I meet weekly at the local senior center. We have a book of Winter Memories that we hope to publish in time for Christmas gift giving. The local nonprofit senior center turned us down when we asked to use their bank account to publish on Amazon. All the profits would go directly to this non profit senior center. One of our members is a published author and he is assisting us but he is reluctant to let us piggy back on his account because it would be difficult to keep the royalties separated. We want to donate the book profits to the senior center. We are retired. And don’t have income (per se) so receiving a 1099 would cause tax consequences that we continue to research. Any advice would be appreciated. .Julie M 704 517 6776.

Vincent T Perratore

I am deeply interested in joining a worthwhile writers’ club and further, to be able to connect with other patrons of a similar bent, of which I now find myself and have thought so for quite some time; a natural development, I expect from much reading, or perhaps a nascent ambition awaiting fulfillment?

Therefore, I would be grateful if you would kindly regale me with a bit of advice along these lines. Thank you very much indeed!

Kaelyn Barron

Hi Vincent, I think all the groups listed here will help you meet those goals, especially our own Facebook group ! :)

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groups in creative writing

50 fun group writing exercises

Group writing exercises you can do with your writing circle or critique group are a fun ice-breaker and a way to get creative ideas flowing. Read 50 ‘fill in the blank’ creative writing prompts.

  • Post author By Jordan
  • 6 Comments on 50 fun group writing exercises

50 fun group writing exercises | Now Novel

‘Fill in the blank’ writing exercises are fun to do in a group. Writing exercises with some set parameters highlight the diverse, interesting ways different writers interpret and respond to the same prompts. Try one of 50 ‘fill in the blank’ creative writing prompts below, and share your creativity in the comments or tag @NowNovel if sharing your version on social media.

The group writing exercises

The first prompt was a prompt for a contest to win a place on our Group Coaching writing course .

Contest prompt

Fill in the blanks Now Novel group coaching contest

Every year, I’d made a resolution not to ever __ again. Yet by January 20th I’d already __ and __.

Entries were voted on blind by a panel of four from the Now Novel team, and the winner was Ethan Myers with this entry:

Writing contest winner - Ethan Myers entry

Here are 49 more prompts to enjoy and stimulate creative ideas:

Writing exercises featuring scene-setting

On leaving As soon as I turned 18, I left__. It was a town of__and__ .

On arrival I walked through the arched entryway and my jaw dropped. Everywhere you looked there were__. Marco Polo himself could never have imagined__.

The first time It was my first ever flight. I was__. Then a__ sat down next to me, turning to me and asking, “__?”

Compare and contrast My hometown was__. When I got to__, a college town, the first thing I noticed was__.

Use the senses The minute you entered, you could smell __. Paired with the sound of __, it was unmistakably home.

Be specific The home we’d rented for the holidays was neither__ nor__, contrary to the listing. Yet my younger brother was delighted when we found__.

Build a bucket list I’d always wanted to go to__. I’d read so much about its__, though nothing had prepared me for__.

Create a world In the books I had read as a kid, portals were gateways to worlds where __. Yet here, I was surprised to find a__.

Outside/inside Outside, the sounds of__ filled the air__. Yet inside, the 19th Century __was like another world, full of strange __.


Stay accountable, in a structured program with writing sprints, coach Q&As, webinars and feedback in an intimate writing group.

Now Novel group coaching

Group writing exercises featuring conflict

Lovers’ quarrel We thought it would be a romantic getaway to Rome. Then__. By the end of the day, hot and fed up, we__.

A troubling lookout He climbed the watchtower, yet when he turned to the window, what he saw made him tremble.__.

The duel Many had said that if they were ever to duel, no two could be more equally matched. But what his opponent didn’t know was__.

Alien invasion In alien movies, they always blew up The White House or__. So he hadn’t expected to be toe to toe with an extraterrestrial having a screamed debate about__.

An assassin As the most skilled contract killer in the kingdom, she knew how to__. Yet nobody knew that she__.

Warring nations It started with a trade embargo. Then the president said that our neighbors’ president was a __ with a __. Next thing we knew, __.

Difficult decisions I couldn’t decide whether to__ or to__, but it was 4:45 pm and the last train was leaving in five minutes.

Writing exercises using dialogue

Secrets and lies “I never__,” he said. Yet I knew he was lying because__.

Surprises “Guess what I have behind my back?” she said. “__?” I guessed. “No!” She held out__.

Confessions “I didn’t know how to tell you this … I__.” “I’m glad you told me, now we can__.”

Embarrassing family “Your son is very talented, Mr Jones,” the__ said. “You say that now. You should have seen when he was 9. He__ and we were told that__.”

Thinking aloud “You should__.” “What did you just say?” “Did I just say that out loud? I was thinking about__.”

Know-it-all “Bet you didn’t know__,” he gloated. “Bet you didn’t know__,” I clapped back, full sass.

Bad bard “Shall I compare thee-“ I married a thespian. “Shall I compare you to __?” I rolled my eyes.

Writing exercises using simile and metaphor

Wild reactions His face was as __ as a__ after the bug bite and we were all a bit worried.

Comparing the moon The moon is a__ tonight, its thin crescent glowing like a__.

Making abstraction specific My anxiety is like a__ on the first day of school. A__ with a __.

Sound and simile The first minutes the orchestra was like a __, the music shimmering like __. But in the allegro the principal violinist’s string broke and the conductor__.

Describing emotions Fear is a__ with a__.

Describing the human voice He had a voice like__, like a__ echoing in a __.

Degrees of comparison The mysterious drink they prepared was sweeter than__. But sweeter still was__.

Fill in the blanks writing exercise - use the senses | Now Novel

Writing exercises using different POVs

Fugitive I had run all night, adrenaline keeping fatigue at bay. When I saw__ as dawn broke, I knew__.

Collective They had ways of dealing with dissent. If you dared to go against the clan, you would be__, God help you.

The reader as reader You decide to go to the library. You want to read a book about__. The librarian raises an eyebrow as they run the barcode scanner. “__?” They ask, as you blush.

The group as one That summer, we__ until we couldn’t__. We were all in our twenties, and the days were__.

Writing exercise using different moods of the verb

Future perfect tense, indicative mood In several years’ time, she will have changed, our__ changing like__.

Present tense, potential mood “They may change their minds,” the King says, scowling, “or else we may have to__ and__.”

Future tense, subjunctive mood If I should__, then tell everyone I never__.

[See a helpful explanation of verb moods and tenses in Ursula K. Le Guin’s Steering the Craft . ]

Writing exercises from creating blanks in books

Colum McCann – Let the Great World Spin We had a short driveway full of__. If we crossed the road, we could stand on__ and__.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez – Love in the Time of Cholera He had returned from a long stay in Paris, where he__, and from the time he set foot on solid ground he__.

Margaret Atwood, Oryx and Crake Jimmy’s earliest complete memory was of a huge__. He must have been five, maybe six. He was wearing__.

Virginia Woolf – Mrs Dalloway Her only gift was__. If you put her in a room with some one, up went her back like a cat’s; or she__.

Italo Calvino – The Complete Cosmicomics I thought only of the Earth. It was the Earth that caused each of us to__.

David Sedaris – Me Talk Pretty One Day When painting proved too difficult, I turned to__, telling myself__.

Eva Hoffman – Lost in Translation The library is located in a__ street, in an ancient building, which one enters through a__. It is Plato’s cave, Egyptian temple, the space of__.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – Half of a Yellow Sun Richard said little at the parties Susan took him to. When she introduced him, she always added__. But they were pleasant to him; they would be to__.

Ursula K. Le Guin – The Left Hand of Darkness I’ll make my report as if I told a story, for I was taught__.

Colson Whitehead – The Zone The reunions were terrific and rote, early tutelage in the recursive nature of human experience. “__?” the girlfriends asked as they padded in bearing__, and he’d say “__”.

Barbara Kingsolver – The Poisonwood Bible Once every few years, even now, I catch the scent of__. It makes me want to keen, sing,__.

Jorge Luis Borges – Labyrinths He opened a drawer of the black and gold desk. He faced me and in his hands he held__.

Emily Brontë – Wuthering Heights While enjoying a month of fine weather at the sea-coast, I was thrown into the company of a__, a real__.

Find daily writing prompts plus literary device definitions and terms.

Build focus and a steady writing routine, and get help from experienced coaches and editors while connecting with other writers on our 6-month Group Coaching course. Learn more and see what alumni loved.

Related Posts:

  • How to find a writing group plus 7 pros of workshops
  • Writing exercises: 10 fun tense workouts
  • 6 creative writing exercises for rich character
  • Tags writing groups , writing inspiration , writing prompts

groups in creative writing

Jordan is a writer, editor, community manager and product developer. He received his BA Honours in English Literature and his undergraduate in English Literature and Music from the University of Cape Town.

6 replies on “50 fun group writing exercises”

These exercises look like fun!

Sometimes there comes a point when you can’t think of anything worth writing. I guess every writer will know what I mean. But with these templates, I can get some inspiration and share whole stories with my friends.

Thank you, Jordan.

Hi Daisy, I’m glad that you found these ideas inspiring, it’s a pleasure. Thank you for sharing your feedback!

I love these! They’re inspiring (although I want to cheat and use them as-is). Lots of material for future fun 😉

Hi Margriet, thank you! I’m glad you find these writing exercises fun. We can share fill-in-the-blank exercises in the challenge group, that’s another idea.

Thankyou Jordan for these great points.

It’s a pleasure, Dave. Thank you for reading our blog.

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Christopher Fielden

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Quick links on this page:

  • add your writing group to this directory
  • list of writing groups
  • other writing group list providers
  • a history of closed writing groups

Below are comprehensive lists of creative writing groups, writing circles, writing clubs and writing peer/help groups. Some of these are local, face-to-face writers' groups, requiring physical attendance. Some are online writing groups, allowing you to live anywhere in the world and be a member.

Writing Group

Add Your Writing Group To This List

If you run a writing group, writers' circle, writing club, help group or writing organisation that you'd like included in this directory, please contact me providing ALL of the following information:

  • The name of your writing group
  • A link to your website (or Facebook / Twitter / page, or whatever platform you use for your group)
  • Your group's location
  • Whether it is online or a face-to-face meet-up group
  • How often you have meetings
  • Any other details (please keep this concise - 50 words max)

I try and keep these lists accurate with current information and correct details. If you do spot any errors, please feel free to get in touch and let me know - any help in keeping this directory up to date is very much appreciated :-)

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Below is a table with details of writing groups, clubs, circles and other organisations.

Short Story Course

Other Writing Group Directories and Lists

Below are links to other websites that provide lists of writers' groups.

  • A list of online writing communities that offer free story critiques
  • National Association of Writers' Groups Directory
  • Society of Authors
  • Writers Online
  • Writing East Midlands

A History of Closed Writer Groups

For reference, a record of writing groups that have closed or ceased to operate.

This page may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy .

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Richard AC I am looking for a club that is driven by writing - either novice or other - because I am interested in writing projects and am open to ideas that could help inspire all involved.

I suffer from acute anxiety and recently had counselling that suggested I joined a club such as this as it may pay me dividends and teach me how to mix with others. As I love writing, I thought of this.

Chris Fielden Hi Richard. Thank you for your message. Sorry to hear about your anxiety, but glad you're taking steps to improve the situation - that's great.

Well, you can either try joining a local face-to-face writing group (like the ones listed on this page), or look at online options. Personally, I find in person groups work better, but online can work too, depending on your needs / personal preference.

If you'd prefer online, I list quite a few platforms you can look at here .

I hope that helps and wish you the best of luck finding a group that suits your needs :-)

Richard AC Dear Mr. Fielden. Thank you for responding to my queries in the matter of a writing group. I do appreciate the feed back you sent and will consider one or two avenues. Maybe something will become of it.

Chris Fielden No problem, Richard. Good luck with finding a group :-)

Kevin A Hi, I'm looking to challenge myself with some collective creative writing. I've been in a group before which inspired me to approach my local library and asked for permission to hold a group in there. To my surprise the local council backed me and it was a thing for several months. Unfortunately it had to stop and I've been looking for something to let me express myself lyrically, metaphorically, even humorously too. I hope someone will be able to point me in the right direction. I have a lot of works that I'm actually proud of and am holding aspirations to be an author. I have a few individual poems published in various books but that was a long time ago. I think I've evolved as a writer with age. Hope to hear from someone. Thanks.

Chris Fielden Hi Kevin, thanks for your message.

Firstly, I'd recommend researching groups in your local area. If there aren't any and you don't want to start up another one, you can look for online platforms. I list many on my site - you can find details here .

Also, consider looking at other lists of writing groups, like the ones featured here .

I hope that helps and wish you the very best with finding the right group for you.

Kevin A Thanks for getting back to me Chris. I'll take a look at the links you sent me. Cheers mate.

Chris Fielden No problem, thanks Kevin :-)

Caroline B Hi, I am working on my second book which is about somatic awareness,  movement and creative expression. I would love to find a writers group who are focusing on simlar themes, such as creative expression through the body. I should add that the central theme of my book is a creative response to the concept of symptom as messenger.

I live in South Devon and would like to meet face to face occaisionally, though I realise my request may be too big an ask!! But then you can always ask.

Best wishes, Caroline

Chris Fielden Thanks for your message, Caroline.

I'm afraid I don't know of any groups like that in your area. What you're looking for sounds fairly niche, to be honest. You may have to try searching for online groups instead.

I hope that helps and wish you the best of luck in finding the right writing group for you :)

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How to Run a Successful Writing Group

So you’ve set up your writing group. Now what?

Whether your group is newly formed, or perhaps it’s been running for a while, here are some ideas that can help you inject creative energy.

1. Create the right atmosphere

In order to get into the right creative space, you need to feel at ease with your fellow writers. Make sure new members are welcomed and introduced. And get everyone to say something in the big group at the beginning of every meeting so all members feel involved from the start.

Beginnings to break the ice could be :

  • One good thing that’s happened for me in the last seven days
  • One thing I’m looking forward to this weekend
  • One accomplishment achieved in the last seven days (could be anything from cooking a curry to climbing a mountain).
  • One new thing I’ve tried – it doesn’t matter whether it succeeded.

2. Have an agenda

An agenda that roughly follows the same formula each time means people will know what to expect.

You have options but it could look something like this:

  • Welcome everyone and do a round the table check in (see above) that allows everyone chance to say something. This could include brief introductions if there are new members.
  • The secretary or person in charge of correspondence gives news of writing events, courses, competitions that have arrived via post or email. Members add whatever they have heard of or spotted in magazines.
  • A short spontaneous warm up writing exercise with read backs
  • Refreshment break for informal friendly chat
  • Read backs and feedback of pieces people have written at home. Or a group exercise designed to develop some specific writing skill with read backs.
  • Anything else anyone wants to raise and date and time of next meeting.

3. Start on time and end on time

This will encourage latecomers to be prompt and enable members to plan the rest of their day or evening.

4. Share the organising

If one person does everything, the burden is awesome. Eventually you might consider appointing different people to share out the tasks.

These might include

  • Secretary – a named person to receive and deal with correspondence and prepare agenda
  • Someone to send out reminders of meetings. This could be the Secretary or a different person
  • Facilitator to set exercises (or this might change for each meeting)
  • Refreshments organiser
  • Membership organiser – the role could be combined with…
  • Treasurer/Accounts organiser to open bank account and collect fees, pay venue hire if necessary. Some libraries may lend you a room without charge
  • Resources and library manager to look after any writing books purchased and owned by the group
  • Events organiser to plan days out, theatre visits, invite visiting speakers/tutors depending on how social you want to be.

5. Set stimulating exercises

Some sources of ideas

  • Beg, borrow or buy writing books and look for exercises that will develop specific skills. Try the library, bookshops, charity shops, Amazon and writer friends who may be clearing their shelves.
  • Google ‘writing exercises for groups’. There are lots of ideas available free on the internet.
  • Use old photographs of places or people, song titles, imaginary dialogue between two characters drawn out of a hat to trigger a story. Be creative. And enjoy!

Recommended books for writing exercises:

The Five Minute Writer Taking Reality by Surprise What If? Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers The Writer’s Block

6. Give honest feedback

One of the reasons people join a writing group is so they can have access to honest feedback. But they often report that their fellow-writers are either too nice or too negative about each other’s work. Both types of feedback can be equally unhelpful.

  • Too nice is bland, boring and gives the writer no feeling of honest appreciation when they do produce something that is genuinely good.
  • Too negative is discouraging and disheartening.
  • What’s needed instead is a positive atmosphere in the sessions that evokes honest, sensitive and respectful feedback. Comments should be constructive and a good formula to follow is two positives and a negative.
  • For instance, “I really liked the way your piece evoked atmosphere of the place (positive). And you built up a feeling of suspense and tension very well (positive). I think the dialogue could reveal a little more of the difficulties of the relationship, rather than using the narrative text to highlight the problems.

If people find it difficult to give feedback, brainstorm a list of criteria you might look at when evaluating a piece of writing and display it prominently. It might include:

  • Does it begin well?
  • What emotion/s does it evoke?
  • What particular words or phrases do you remember?
  • How do you personally relate to the piece?

You might consider appointing the two people sitting next to the reader to take responsibility for giving feedback before opening it up to the group.

Remember most writers have delicate egos and are fairly quick to criticise their own work. So you might introduce a ground rule that no one should be negative about their own writing, or apologise for what they read out. This will help generate a more positive atmosphere.

7. Celebrate your successes

When one of your members wins an award or a competition, or gets published in any small or major way, make it an excuse for celebration. A round of applause, a shared cake or bottle of bubbly. Do whatever works. And encourage your writers to aim for the stars. Who knows – one of them might be the author of the next best-seller.

For information on inviting Judi to run a session at your writing group, in person or online with Zoom click here

Creative Future

Joining a peer group of writers is a really ideal way to keep your work going, get feedback and positive support. It’s invaluable and we really recommend it.

Here are some websites that collate other writing groups, but it’s worth searching on Facebook or Google as well since these directories aren’t comprehensive or always kept up to date:

  • Writing Circles in the UK
  • Writers Online directory
  • Society of Authors directory

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National Writing Project (UK): list of current writing groups across the United Kingdom.

Joining a group is free and easy - please email us or fill in this form to get in touch. There are many benefits to joining a writing group.

Can’t see a group local to you? Please get in contact here to connect and help the Project grow.


The All Saints NWP Writing Teachers group is based in the All Saints Academy Trust and welcomes all local primary and secondary teachers around Eye, in Suffolk. It meets once a half term from 4 – 6 and is hosted by different schools in the area. We write together and talk about teaching writng. Of course, cake is involved, and book-making, sharing of ideas and mutual support.

Conveners: Emily Rowe and Jeni Smith

The Bedford group is a community writing group of 14: 6 teachers and 8 other writers from across the local area. We have met 72 times in the last six years. We meet for 2 hours on the first Saturday of each month, hiring a room (with 2 kettles!) in the Higgins museum and gallery. It costs each of us £35 for a year.

We write to explore our memories and current concerns. We learn through writing, and we reflect on the process together. We find that it empowers individual and collective agency. For example, in 2020 we compiled a calendar of our poetry and photographs and thereby raised £300 to help local homeless and refugees.

Convener: Shared leadership across the group


The Bristol group has been running since 2013. We welcome English teachers with any amount of teaching experience - from heads of department to PGCE student teachers - and any amount of writing experience - some people have written very little before joining; some have published their work. One of the joys of the group is seeing how seamlessly the writers come together to support each other. 

We meet once a term, usually in the University of Bristol's School of Education, from 10:00 - 13:00 (always with a generous coffee break!). Sessions are variously led by the group leader, Lorna Smith, group members, and visiting writers: over the years we've enjoyed working with novelists, poets and journalists. Sometimes we go out and about - to the local museum and art gallery, behind the scenes at the city library and the theatre collection, around the urban nature reserve...

Convener: Lorna Smith

Cultivating a regular writing habit in Cambridge

Cultivating a regular writing habit in Cambridge

The Bristol Group

The Bristol Group

The Cambridge branch of the NWP is a small but committed group consisting of teachers who work in both primary and secondary schools, as well as in Initial Teacher Education. We meet in a cafe once every half term, sharing out the leadership of sessions between those who are keen to do this. Meetings usually begin with the sharing of something we've each written in the intervening period, and we then focus on a particular theme, genre or style of writing. The sessions are deliberately playful and unthreatening, but we enjoy then taking ideas away to polish when we have more time afterwards. Belonging to the group has helped each of us to cultivate a more regular writing habit, and to reflect on connections between our teaching and our own creative practice.

Convener: Alison Binney



During lockdown in 2020, as PGCE course leader for English and Head of the MA in Creative Writing and Education, and general lover of what the NWP does in the UK, Francis decided to take the bold step to pilot some Teachers as Writers sessions online, via Zoom. He ran one himself, and then invited others to lead, following the methodology used on the NWP website, and in Jeni and Simon's excellent 'What have writing groups done for us?' article in English in Education. He has participated in quite a few TaW groups over the years, but never led one. The group has initially begun with PGCE English students and MA students joining, but is not part of the official running of Goldsmiths. The online format meant that people with families can join in. The first session got people free writing and reflecting upon their views about writing, and then the following sessions focused more on the issue of 'Decolonising Creative Writing' and 'Black Lives Matter' as this is a particular interest of teachers/students on the course, in London generally, and society as a whole. This session was amazing and was led by a teacher and student-researcher.

References Smith, J., & Wrigley, S. (2012). What has writing ever done for us? The power of teachers' writing groups. English in Education , 46(1), 70-84.

Convenor: Francis Gilbert, [email protected]

The Eastbourne branch of the Teachers’ Writing Group meets roughly six times a year: once a half term. We usually meet in someone’s home on a weekday evening in the Eastbourne and Brighton area. We are a small group – we have just three or four people at a typical meeting – and we hold a variety of roles in education. We are keen writers and often set ourselves ‘homework’ which we share at our meetings. We are now a tight-knit group but would love to welcome some new members!

Convener: Rachel Crystal

The Ipswich NWP Writing Teachers group serves Ipswich and surrounding villages. We are quite a new group and welcome newcomers. We meet monthly, after school (4.30 – 6.30) at The Meadows Montessori School. This group is super friendly and relaxed. We love making books as well as sharing published books we have found useful. On-line booksellers may notice a spike in sales around the time we meet each month! And we do like writing in different coloured inks. Above all, our group would say that we like to share how our enjoyment of writing has helped the enjoyment of writing in our classrooms.

Convenors: Laura Bunting and Jeni Smith

We are a small, friendly writing group which has been going since 2012. We meet every couple of months on a Sunday afternoon at my house in Angel. Although we are based in Islington, we have teachers from all over London. We enjoy eating banana cake, drinking tea, writing and talking together. After a few warm ups we tend to do a semi structured activity, share what we have written, our thoughts about the process and what adaptations we might make for the classroom. New members are always welcome.

Convener: Emma Simpson


We meet in museums and galleries in London about once a term. Each time we meet it’s in a different space and the exhibitions or displays provide inspiration for writing. Starting time is usually 10.30am on a Saturday and it’s usually finished by 12.30. Great company, (usually) great coffee and incredible art. What could be better? Contact me if you’re interested in joining us at the next meet-up.

Convener: David Marshall

The Reading group meets about once a month at the wonderful Global Cafe (part of the Reading International Solidarity Centre: ( https://www.risc.org.uk/main ) - a really fabulous venue for creative writing - for about an hour and a half.  The structure of the meetings usually centres around a theme (such as  time ) and I set up a series of shortish writing activities (we've used lots from the NWP website) which lead to longer pieces that individuals are free to continue in their own time.  We do share our writing with each other, although this is entirely voluntary.  

Convener: Rachel Roberts

SUSSEX (South downs)

We are a small group of cross-phase teachers who aim to meet once each half term in locations all over Sussex including Brighton, Crawley, Horsham, Littlehampton, Billingshurst and Storrington. We usually alternate between meeting in someone's home and in public spaces such as parks, cafes, libraries, universities and museums. Meetings last around two hours and include plenty of writing time, the sharing of writing, and discussion of how the writing experience might work in the classroom. And cake. There's usually cake.

Convener: Theresa Gooda

Sussex texts.JPG


The Writing Teachers NWP group in Norwich is the longest standing group. We are friendly, enthusiastic and full of energy. We write first –short pieces, longer pieces, playful and more challenging. Biscuits form part of the routine and, after a break – with plenty of time for networking, we focus more on discussions of teaching and writing. Teachers who come to the group represent the whole age range –from reception to A level- so we learn from each other. We have found that the ideas that set us writing are easily adapted and we look forward to hearing how people have done so in their classrooms. We love making books, writing outside and sharing Haribo. We have a Facebook page called Writing Teachers.

Convener: Jeni Smith


Our group started in February 2018 in Wembley, although we’ve branched out to meet in London now. We currently have ten members (some shared with the NWP Whodunnit group), whose specialisms include: secondary English, modern foreign languages and maths. The average number of writers at any one meeting is normally six. We meet one Saturday every half term from 10am – 1pm. Places we’ve met at include: National Poetry Library, Museum of London, Fleet Street Press Café, St James Park and the writing stimulus is normally (but not always) led by location. We’ve participated in two research projects in 2019 with Bristol University.

Convener: Alison Jermak

Fleet Street Cafe, Wembley

Fleet Street Cafe, Wembley

The main consideration for our group is that we meet in a café where there is good coffee – and croissants. It is a truth universally acknowledged that communities of writers require sustenance. We explore different venues from the British Library to the Wellcome Collection to Tate Modern to Southwark Cathedral to Westminster Abbey and lots of other places with good cafes. The other requirement is that they are easily accessible for our writers who travel across London and from much further afield. We begin with writing warm ups followed by own writing space and then the opportunity to share. We enjoy hearing the writing of each other and welcome the multitude of twists and turns and alleys and by ways our writing takes us in. We enjoy welcoming new members. We meet once a term on a Saturday from 10 am to 1 pm.

Convenor: Marjory Caine

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Creative Writing Program Marks Three Decades of Growth, Diversity

Black and white photo shows old American seaside town with title 'Barely South Review'

By Luisa A. Igloria

2024: a milestone year which marks the 30 th  anniversary of Old Dominion University’s MFA Creative Writing Program. Its origins can be said to go back to April 1978, when the English Department’s (now Professor Emeritus, retired) Phil Raisor organized the first “Poetry Jam,” in collaboration with Pulitzer prize-winning poet W.D. Snodgrass (then a visiting poet at ODU). Raisor describes this period as “ a heady time .” Not many realize that from 1978 to 1994, ODU was also the home of AWP (the Association of Writers and Writing Programs) until it moved to George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.

The two-day celebration that was “Poetry Jam” has evolved into the annual ODU Literary Festival, a week-long affair at the beginning of October bringing writers of local, national, and international reputation to campus. The ODU Literary Festival is among the longest continuously running literary festivals nationwide. It has featured Rita Dove, Maxine Hong Kingston, Susan Sontag, Edward Albee, John McPhee, Tim O’Brien, Joy Harjo, Dorothy Allison, Billy Collins, Naomi Shihab Nye, Sabina Murray, Jane Hirshfield, Brian Turner, S.A. Cosby, Nicole Sealey, Franny Choi, Ross Gay, Adrian Matejka, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Ilya Kaminsky, Marcelo Hernandez Castillo, Jose Olivarez, and Ocean Vuong, among a roster of other luminaries. MFA alumni who have gone on to publish books have also regularly been invited to read.

From an initial cohort of 12 students and three creative writing professors, ODU’s MFA Creative Writing Program has grown to anywhere between 25 to 33 talented students per year. Currently they work with a five-member core faculty (Kent Wascom, John McManus, and Jane Alberdeston in fiction; and Luisa A. Igloria and Marianne L. Chan in poetry). Award-winning writers who made up part of original teaching faculty along with Raisor (but are now also either retired or relocated) are legends in their own right—Toi Derricotte, Tony Ardizzone, Janet Peery, Scott Cairns, Sheri Reynolds, Tim Seibles, and Michael Pearson. Other faculty that ODU’s MFA Creative Writing Program was privileged to briefly have in its ranks include Molly McCully Brown and Benjamín Naka-Hasebe Kingsley.

"What we’ve also found to be consistently true is how collegial this program is — with a lively and supportive cohort, and friendships that last beyond time spent here." — Luisa A. Igloria, Louis I. Jaffe Endowed Professor & University Professor of English and Creative Writing at Old Dominion University

Our student body is diverse — from all over the country as well as from closer by. Over the last ten years, we’ve also seen an increase in the number of international students who are drawn to what our program has to offer: an exciting three-year curriculum of workshops, literature, literary publishing, and critical studies; as well as opportunities to teach in the classroom, tutor in the University’s Writing Center, coordinate the student reading series and the Writers in Community outreach program, and produce the student-led literary journal  Barely South Review . The third year gives our students more time to immerse themselves in the completion of a book-ready creative thesis. And our students’ successes have been nothing but amazing. They’ve published with some of the best (many while still in the program), won important prizes, moved into tenured academic positions, and been published in global languages. What we’ve also found to be consistently true is how collegial this program is — with a lively and supportive cohort, and friendships that last beyond time spent here.

Our themed studio workshops are now offered as hybrid/cross genre experiences. My colleagues teach workshops in horror, speculative and experimental fiction, poetry of place, poetry and the archive — these give our students so many more options for honing their skills. And we continue to explore ways to collaborate with other programs and units of the university. One of my cornerstone projects during my term as 20 th  Poet Laureate of the Commonwealth was the creation of a Virginia Poets Database, which is not only supported by the University through the Perry Library’s Digital Commons, but also by the MFA Program in the form of an assistantship for one of our students. With the awareness of ODU’s new integration with Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS) and its impact on other programs, I was inspired to design and pilot a new 700-level seminar on “Writing the Body Fantastic: Exploring Metaphors of Human Corporeality.” In the fall of 2024, I look forward to a themed graduate workshop on “Writing (in) the Anthropocene,” where my students and I will explore the subject of climate precarity and how we can respond in our own work.

Even as the University and wider community go through shifts and change through time, the MFA program has grown with resilience and grace. Once, during the six years (2009-15) that I directed the MFA Program, a State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) university-wide review amended the guidelines for what kind of graduate student would be allowed to teach classes (only those who had  already  earned 18 or more graduate credits). Thus, two of our first-year MFA students at that time had to be given another assignment for their Teaching Assistantships. I thought of  AWP’s hallmarks of an effective MFA program , which lists the provision of editorial and publishing experience to its students through an affiliated magazine or press — and immediately sought department and upper administration support for creating a literary journal. This is what led to the creation of our biannual  Barely South Review  in 2009.

In 2010,  HuffPost  and  Poets & Writers  listed us among “ The Top 25 Underrated Creative Writing MFA Programs ” (better underrated than overrated, right?) — and while our MFA Creative Writing Program might be smaller than others, we do grow good writers here. When I joined the faculty in 1998, I was excited by the high caliber of both faculty and students. Twenty-five years later, I remain just as if not more excited, and look forward to all the that awaits us in our continued growth.

This essay was originally published in the Spring 2024 edition of Barely South Review , ODU’s student-led literary journal. The University’s growing MFA in Creative Writing program connects students with a seven-member creative writing faculty in fiction, poetry, and nonfiction.

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Sacrifice Zone: A Wild, Wonderful, and Honest Zine of West Virginia

Sacrifice zone zine wvu mfa creative writing matthew powney

Zines are making a comeback in the creative writing world. 

If you open Etsy on your web browser and simply type “zine” in the search bar, you’ll discover a wonderland of beautifully crafted, pocket-sized art/writing made by genuine artists and creatives. A zine exists for any niche interest now: ranging from fanzines about the 90s TV show Frasier, to literary analyses on the cross-cultural implications of fan fiction in the literary world, to carefully curated handbooks for thrift shopping, among so many others. Chances are, if you’ve ever browsed an indie bookstore or explored a local art fair, you’ve probably come across a zine in the wild! 

And if you’ve never heard of a “zine” before, you might be wondering what exactly this art form is. As defined by Purdue University, “A zine (pronounced ZEEN) is short for ‘fanzine’ and is usually a small-batch, independently published work that circulates less than 1,000 copies. Anyone can be a zinester (aka ‘someone who creates a zine’), and most people make zines for the love of creating rather than for seeking a profit. In general, a zine is a pamphlet-like publication that can include text, images, artwork, found objects, or any other creative material that helps to express the author's message” ( Purdue ).

Matt Powney, a recent graduate of West Virginia University’s MFA program in the Poetry track, has spent the last year designing and creating a zine of his own making with his partner, Kay, aptly titled Sacrifice Zone . As a creative with a deep respect for the honest nature of writing, and the importance of producing work that deconstructs the extractive nature of corporate, economical culture in West Virginia society today, producing a zine tailored to Matt’s own interests seemed like the natural way to share his work with others.

After purchasing a copy of the first issue of Sacrifice Zone in fall 2023, I knew that Matt had found a metaphorical creative goldmine for himself. The collage artwork within the first issue of Sacrifice Zone features a fractured urban/rural landscape of our West Virginia that has been literally and metaphorically gutted by Big Pharma, corporate greed, incarceration, and predatory coal companies. The kaleidoscope-esque imagery is haunting and powerful, and pairs beautifully with the crisp poetry and painfully tender creative nonfiction on the page. I had the pleasure of learning more about Sacrifice Zone from Matt in the following Q&A:

You talk a lot about your intention for creating Sacrifice Zone in the first installment, and what it means to you and your readers – would you care to share any more insight about your intention for creating this zine, and what you hope to get out of it with each installment?

Mostly, I just hope to create some level of community and discussion about prison in Appalachia, and making art in Appalachia. I just want to give people a voice and platform for their art. Both Appalachians in general and people in prison are a silenced group of people, so the more amplification they can get, the better in my eyes. My main goal for this zine is to undo stereotypes, and sharing stories is a great way to do that.

Sacrifice Zone seems like a really collaborative project! How did you go about choosing pieces for the zine, arranging them in the order they’re in, as well as the art/images that were used in the zine? Did you and Kay work together in the making of Sacrifice Zone?

Sacrifice Zone is a collaborative project. I relied on a lot of friends and mentors to have this project come together. For this first installment, I just asked a bunch of my friends for submissions - people from all over Appalachia, with different relationships to the prison system. I got the inspiration for the art and for the general vibe of the zine from Thomas Martin’s zine , Martha Stewart Mixtapes, which Kay contributes to regularly. Their zine feels alive. It is what I wanted for Sacrifice Zone, so naturally, it became a model of what I wanted the zine to look like. Knowing that Thomas uses collage art from Martha Stewart Magazine to make Martha Stewart’s Mixtapes, I started thinking about what I could use for our magazine and realized I’d thrifted stacks of the perfect magazine already -  old copies of Wonderful West Virginia.

As for selection of the specific art we used, Kay and I spent an evening going through all of the magazines and matching them to our submissions. We had a lot of fun doing it, and found images we loved that weren’t right for this issue that we are excited to use for future volumes.

You mentioned that Thomas Martin, a previous MFA student, was an influence for Sacrifice Zone . Are there any other zines or forms of media that inspired you to create your zine?

  • Yes! I read Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration around the time I began working on this project. It is a book of art made by people in prison. It was also a huge inspiration. One of the poems I included in the zine, also called “Marking Time,” was inspired by this book.

Do you have an idea of what themes you want to cover in future installments for the zine?

Right now, we are open to any art that fits the project. Maybe in the future, we will think about themed volumes, but right now, we’d like to make as many connections as we can.

Do you have a current submission window for the next installment of Sacrifice Zone ? Or a future pub date?

  • I have already received some submissions for the next installment and am still open to receiving more. We are hoping to put another one out in May, but with Kay and my first child due in early May, there could be some delay. [As of this blog post, Matt and Kay are officially parents!]

How can people purchase this zine and future zines in the series, and for how much?

Right now, I am personally selling copies. The easiest way would be to contact the instagram page, @sacrifice.zone , and a copy can be mailed to you. In the future, we hope to have an online store and to sell them through local vendors.

If you want to support Matt Powney and Sacrifice Zone , you can stay up to date by following the zine’s official Instagram page: @sacrifice.zone 

Stay tuned for more news, events, and happenings among WVU’s Creative Writing program!

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Celebrating Health Profession Students' Poetry, Prose, and Visual Arts

Program for Humanities in Medicine 2024 Health Professions Creative Writing and Art Contest Awards Ceremony

Lenique Huggins - First place in Art category

Created by MD student Hang Nguyen. Second place in Art category

WInston Trope - Honorable Mention in Art category

Zeynep Inanoglu - Honorable Mention in Art category

2024 PHM Health Professions Creative Writing and Art Contest Award Ceremony - Student Winners

Winning artwork

Black Motherhood in Medicine

Created by MD student Lenique Huggins. First place in Art category

These Small Things

These are the titles of the poetry, prose, and visual artworks that received first-place in the annual Yale School of Medicine (YSM) Program for Humanities in Medicine (PHM) Health Professions Students' Creative Writing & Art Contest. On May 2, the student winners were celebrated at a gathering where they shared and often provided context for their creations. A supportive and appreciative audience applauded enthusiastically after each presentation.

Professor and PHM Director Anna Reisman, MD, welcomed everyone to the celebration, sharing that the contest began more than two decades ago. It originally was a poetry and prose contest just for medical students; the family of Marguerite Rush Lerner, MD, established and endowed the contest to honor her. Lerner was a dermatologist at YSM, as well as a children’s book author. (Lerner’s husband, Aaron Lerner, MD, PhD, was the first chair of Yale’s Department of Dermatology, and two of their four sons, Ethan Lerner, MD, PhD ‘82 and Michael Lerner, MD ’81, attended YSM.) Reisman explained that several years ago the contest expanded to include visual arts, and also students from across the health profession schools and programs—MD, MD-PhD, Physician Associate, Physician Assistant Online, Nursing, and Public Health.

This year, almost 100 students participated in the contest. MD student winners receive the Marguerite Rush-Lerner prize; the other Yale health professions students receive the Program for Humanities in Medicine prize. See the list of winners under "Related Links."

While second-year MD student Lenique Huggins had been thinking about creating Black Motherhood in Medicine for a few months, it only took two evenings to do so, once she began.

She explains that the inspiration for the piece started in her first week of medical school, when she learned that the maternal mortality rate for Black mothers is 2.6 more than non-Hispanic white mothers. “As a young Black woman, this statistic especially pained me and my close friends.” Additionally, she says that in classes throughout the year, she was part of formal and informal discussions about being a mother in medicine. “I heard from classmates across racial backgrounds about their real fears of balancing pregnancy with their medical training and pregnancy complications among medical professionals.” That led her to begin to think about “my intersection as a future Black mother in medicine and the challenges I may face because of these identities. Now, as a second-year student, I created a piece that captures something I have thought much about these past two years.”

Huggins grew up in a Caribbean household close to art and culture from all over the world. “I’ve always been surrounded by music, dance, storytelling, and visual art, and my family hosted international students throughout my childhood. I started playing the piano at age three, and have been singing, dancing, and doodling for as long as I can remember.” However, it was not until she was an undergraduate at Duke University and participated in community service that she “began to understand the therapeutic value of art.”

Through her involvement in different programs at that time, including Families Moving Forward, a shelter for families without homes, and Reflections, a weekly art program for adults with dementia at Duke Nasher Museum, Huggins says, “I saw how encouraging self-expression could bring peace during uncertain times, reduce stress, and empower communities. When I went through a rough time in my sophomore year, I found myself using painting for a lot of healing.”

Huggins continues, “I will continue practicing art. It’s a self-care practice that helps me combat burnout and show up better for patients who need me.”

Class of 2025 MD student Hang Nguyen started painting at age 11, when her family immigrated to America from Vietnam. She explains, “I did not speak English at the time, so art was a vessel through which I could communicate my tumultuous adolescent mind.”

Currently, she paints often and says her favorite subject is “surreal, tranquil, and, occasionally, liminal landscapes, such as a classroom at midnight, an overgrown, abandoned church, and a long corridor that leads nowhere. For me, these landscapes represent a longing for a space that exists tranquilly, where one can be one's true self.”

Nguyen painted Submerged specifically for this contest; “In other words, this contest inspired me to look inward and reflect on — instead of simply overcome and move forward from — the challenges that I have encountered in medical school.” Through the work she wanted “to convey the various feelings that I experienced while studying for board exams using motifs that are near and dear to me like water and fish in a surreal, tranquil, and liminal ambience.” She painted it during time dedicated to Step 1, over the course of a week, working on it for an hour to two at night.

Hunger , On Chinese Medicine , and On the First Day of Anatomy Lab

First-year Physician Associate (PA) student Kelly Dunn was honored with three prizes: A tie for first place in prose for Hunger , a tie for second place in poetry for On Chinese Medicine , and honorable mention in prose for On the First Day of Anatomy Lab , each of which she shared with the audience. While Dunn, who “always considered the humanities to be a part of my life,” has been an avid reader and artist for as long as she can remember, she did not start writing until the COVID-19 pandemic. She says she mostly wrote nonfiction, and only semi-frequently, “whenever something momentous transpired, or I suddenly felt called to it,” explaining, “so much of my love and appreciation for writing comes from the fact that it’s a medium to better articulate an experience through. Having something so fresh and felt so acutely is a wonderful impetus to begin writing.”

The contest was one of Dunn’s first times writing poetry, “I’ve always been intimidated by it. Learning the different poetic forms and metric lines, as well as how to be economical with my words, seems like something I’ll never be able to achieve.” She continued, “I’m grateful for this contest for giving me an opportunity to try”

For Dunn, writing in PA school has been “incredibly helpful processing all that has happened. Every day I vacillate between feelings of immense wonder, humility, and gratitude— and these words in themselves don’t even do the moments I’ve witnessed justice.”


Reisman thanked PHM Manager Karen Kolb for her work coordinating the contest, and the 16 YSM faculty and staff members who served as judges:

Aba Black, MD, MHS, Anne Merritt, MD, MS, Terry Dagradi, Sarah Cross, MD, Lorence Gutterman, MD, Melissa Grafe, PhD, Randi Hutter-Epstein, MD, MPH, Kenneth Morford, MD, Sharon Ostfeld-Johns, MD, Vincent Quagliarello, MD, Lisa Sanders, MD, Nora Segar, MD, Elizabeth Marhoffer, MD, Rita Rienzo MMSC, PA-C, Sharon Chekijian, MD, PhH, and Cynthia McNamara, MD.

Featured in this article

  • Aba Black, MD, MHS
  • Sharon Anoush Chekijian, MD, MPH
  • Sarah Cross, MD
  • Terry Dagradi
  • Randi Epstein
  • Melissa Grafe, PhD
  • Lorence Gutterman, MD
  • Lenique Huggins
  • Karen P Kolb
  • Elizabeth Marhoffer, MD
  • Cynthia Frary McNamara, MD, FACP
  • Anne Merritt, MD, MS
  • Kenneth Morford, MD, FASAM
  • Hang Nguyen
  • Sharon Ostfeld-Johns, MD, IBCLC
  • Vincent Quagliarello, MD
  • Anna Reisman, MD
  • Rita Rienzo, MMSc, PA-C
  • Lisa Sanders, MD, FACP
  • Nora Segar, MD

Related Links

  • Contest winners
  • 4 YSN Students Earn Prizes at Health Professions Creative Writing and Art Contest
  • On Chinese Medicine
  • On the First Day of Anatomy Lab

New Scholarship Supports Western’s Graduate Program in Creative Writing

A girl sits underneath a tree writing in a notebook.

The Mari Sandoz Emerging Writer Scholarship will be awarded every year.

Students with a passion for writing about the people and landscapes of the West will have a new scholarship opportunity when they enter Western Colorado University’s Graduate Program in Creative Writing (GPCW), thanks to the generosity of the Mari Sandoz Heritage Society.

The Mari Sandoz Emerging Writer Scholarship will be available to one qualified first-year graduate student in the GPCW’s Nature Writing concentration starting in the summer of 2024. The scholarship will be granted each academic year, awarding the winner $3,000 each semester for a total of $6,000.

According to Mari Sandoz Heritage Society board member and director of the GPCW Nature Writing Concentration, Laura Pritchett, the scholarship aims to memorialize Mari Sandoz’s legacy as someone who had a passion for writing and loved the landscapes and peoples of the West. Through the scholarship, the board hopes to support significant writing about the West in the contemporary literary landscape.

“Sandoz’s writing emphasized the environmental and human landscape of the West and was recognized for her no-nonsense yet deeply evocative style,” Pritchett said. “She was passionate about sharing her hard-earned and well-honed writing skills. We’re fortunate to have the Mari Sandoz Heritage Society support this scholarship.”

Applying to the GPCW’s Nature Writing program will also serve as an application for the scholarship. For more information about the GPCW Nature Writing Concentration, visit western.edu/program/nature-writing .

Author credit: Seth Mensing

Photo credit: Courtesy

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The Tragic Downfall of the Internet’s Art Gallery

Once a vibrant platform for artists, deviantart is now buckling under the weight of bots and greed—and spurning the creative community that made it great..

On March 27, a large group of artists and creators from across the web noticed the frightening extent to which a once-beloved, highly influential community platform of theirs had, like so many others , fallen prey to the artificial intelligence juggernauts plundering the internet .

As VFX animator Romain Revert ( Minions , The Lorax ) pointed out on X , the bots had come for his old home base of DeviantArt. Its social accounts were promoting “top sellers” on the platform, with usernames like “Isaris-AI” and “Mikonotai,” who reportedly made tens of thousands of dollars through bulk sales of autogenerated, dead-eyed 3D avatars. The sales weren’t exactly legit—an online artist known as WyerframeZ looked at those users’ followers and found pages of profiles with repeated names, overlapping biographies and account-creation dates, and zero creations of their own, making it apparent that various bots were involved in these “purchases.”

It’s not unlikely, as WyerframeZ surmised, that someone constructed a low-effort bot network that could hold up a self-perpetuating money-embezzlement scheme: Generate a bunch of free images and accounts, have them buy and boost one another in perpetuity, inflate metrics so that the “art” gets boosted by DeviantArt and reaches real humans, then watch the money pile up from DeviantArt revenue-sharing programs. Rinse, repeat.

After Revert declared this bot-on-bot fest to be “the downfall of DeviantArt,” myriad other artists and longtime users of the platform chimed in to share in the outrage that these artificial accounts were monopolizing DeviantArt’s promotional and revenue apparatuses. Several mentioned that they’d abandoned their DeviantArt accounts —all appearing to prove his dramatic point.

Worse still, DeviantArt showed little desire to engage with these concerns: Film concept artist Reid Southen ( The Woman King , Jupiter Ascending ) pointed out that the site’s social media managers had hidden dozens and dozens of critical replies to the tweet that boosted Mikonotai. Right after this blowup, DeviantArt’s Twitter account posted artwork from Nozomi Matsuoka, who was forced to clarify that she’d already wiped her DeviantArt library in protest of its A.I. integrations. The account took down the post soon after.

This isn’t the first ( or most recent ) time the 24-year-old social network has invited such rancor over its A.I. experiments. Much of the ire comes from current and former members, who’d made it an essential resource for illustrators, photographers, cartoonists, and other visual masterminds hoping to show their works, network with peers, and break into creative industries. The first real round of A.I. furor hit DeviantArt in late 2022. As generative-A.I. tools like DALL-E 3 and Midjourney breached the mainstream, DeviantArt partnered with the startup Stability A.I. to roll out an internal image-generation tool called DreamUp, which had the ability to scrape “ every single piece of art on the platform ” for training purposes, per Artnet News.

Outcry from users caused a quick walk back from the company, which noted that “deviations”—creations shared to DeviantArt—would now be “automatically labeled as NOT authorized for use in A.I. datasets.” This did not satisfy the platform’s “Deviants,” who noted that DreamUp was still based off the underlying architecture of Stability A.I.’s popular Stable Diffusion tool —which had already scraped tens of thousands of DeviantArt entries to train its model without creators’ permission, as writer Andy Baio reported and as DeviantArt itself later admitted .

In January 2023, three prominent illustrators (Sarah Andersen, Kelly McKernan, and Karla Ortiz) filed a copyright-infringement and unfair-competition class-action lawsuit in federal court against DeviantArt, Stability, and Midjourney, whose own app trained on the same database that powers Stable Diffusion. Notably, they alleged here that more than 3 million DeviantArt images had been scraped in the training sets used by all three companies.

The suit hit a legal barrier last October, when the judge advanced only Andersen’s infringement claim against Stability while dismissing the rest of the charges—albeit allowing the plaintiffs to refine their case and try again if they chose. And refine it they did , by bringing on seven other artists as fellow plaintiffs. This extended the suit to include popular A.I.-creation firm Runway , which helped to craft Stable Diffusion.

They also amended their complaint against DeviantArt to specify that its rollout of DreamUp constituted direct copyright infringement, a breach of its terms-of-service agreements with DeviantArt users, and a “theft” of revenue from the artists whose works were expropriated as training data. This updated lawsuit, which added pages of visual evidence demonstrating A.I. output that looked nearly identical to users’ artwork, now had additional support from famed artists like Adam Ellis, Gregory Manchess, and Jingna Zhang.

In Zhang’s case, this is neither her only courtroom appearance nor her sole advocacy effort on behalf of artists in the age of mass reproduction. On Friday, she prevailed in a yearslong plagiarism suit against Luxembourgian artist Jeff Dieschburg, who used a 2017 magazine photograph shot by Zhang as a “model” for a 2022 painting he showcased at the Strassen Contemporary Art Biennale—and for which he won a cash prize . Zhang celebrated this verdict, which found that Dieschburg had violated copyright law by using the photo as a source for his art without adding due credit, as a “win” for “artists and photographers everywhere … especially in [the] time of AI where our rights seem to be quickly eroding.”

Zhang told me in an interview that this same copyright principle was what she wanted to bring to the fore in joining the stateside A.I. suit, although this battle is no less personal—and not just because hundreds of her works have been scraped by these companies. “I’ve had an account on DeviantArt for 22 years,” she said. “I actually dropped out of school because I grew a following on DeviantArt. My first job for Mercedes-Benz happened when I was 20 years old because they found my work online.”

She’s far from the only DeviantArt success story. Southen, who joined DeviantArt in the mid-2000s, told me he’d established friendships there that have lasted to this day.

“It was a super important place that had a lot to do with my development as an artist and where I’m at today,” Southen said. He added that the folks he connected with on the site “have helped get me work, and I’ve helped get them work.”

R.J. Palmer, a concept artist who worked on Detective Pikachu , claims to have gotten that gig thanks to the “Realistic Pokemon” illustrations he’d shared on DeviantArt back in 2012, which subsequently went viral . “I’ve been on the site for almost 20 years,” Palmer told me. “I met my long-term partner on DeviantArt in 2009. We live together now.”

Although Palmer and Southen are not directly involved with the litigation against DeviantArt, they’ve found themselves drawn into the battle for artist rights and protection as generative A.I. swallows up more of their industry. In many cases, the tech eats into creative opportunities once readily available to them and their peers. That goes for everything from big-budget movies to even the opportunity for publicity and revenue offered by online platforms like DeviantArt and even Etsy.

“Some people I know that use Etsy have basically seen their income dry up entirely over the past 18 months,” Southen said. “Which is really disturbing to see, because what’s happening is they get buried, and then 50 A.I. people all making $300 a month are effectively making it so someone else can’t pay their bills.”

Why would a site like DeviantArt allow for this—especially when it had once so closely mentored its human users and curated promotional opportunities for them? It seems to have been a long time coming. When it started in 2000, DeviantArt was an early and popular prototype for what we now know as social media, predating the rise of Facebook. It was a casual mixer for artists of all stripes that turned into a serious enterprise as more users across the world logged on to the web throughout the 2000s.

A Canadian illustrator and educator who’s had a DeviantArt account for 17 years (and preferred to stay anonymous) told me that DeviantArt, in contrast with early art-focused message boards where community members offered substantive feedback, “was more of a place for young up-and-coming amateur artists to post their work and get an ego boost with people commenting, ‘I love it.’ ” Since it also provided a centralized portfolio gallery, it was soon “used as a recruiting tool for art directors and people looking for artists for board games.”

“DeviantArt was just big enough, and early enough, that it made careers for a lot of people,” Zhang explained.

By the time streamlined social platforms began to emerge in earnest, the site had trouble catching up. For one, it never branded itself as a place to go professional, and it never intended to be. That role was played by now-dead sites like CGHub, a platform Zhang helped to build, and successors like ArtStation, whose users have also revolted against its A.I. policies. DeviantArt took a different tack by allowing free rein to more friendly interactions and unorthodox drawings. (As Southen bluntly characterized this dynamic: “It became flooded with a lot of really low-effort hentai and porn stuff.”)

Plus, highly capitalized and mobile app–optimized platforms like Tumblr and Instagram offered more organized feeds with smoother user experiences. “Because Tumblr specifically allowed multiple images per post, it was much easier to showcase comics and image sets,” Palmer said. “Another problem is DeviantArt didn’t have an app for a long time. When that finally launched in 2014 , it was just terrible.”

Not only did DeviantArt lose users and revenue opportunities to the bigger social platforms, but it lost the kingmaking clout it had gained from its early web presence. So it missed out on potentially sizable revenue streams. “It become another one of those places that served more ads and made you pay for a ‘premium’ service, which I did for several years,” the Canadian artist said. The site-building company Wix acquired DeviantArt in 2017 and “relaunched” it two years later with a new design called Eclipse, even though Deviants made clear they’d much preferred the earlier iteration .

As artists delved more deeply into professional and traditional realms, their DeviantArt accounts remained on the backburner, albeit with a long-reaching effect. “Even these days, when I’m writing about generative A.I. or something about my Luxembourg lawsuit goes viral, people will be like, ‘I recognize your avatar. I used to follow you on DeviantArt 15 years ago when I was a child,’ ” Zhang said. “It’s the only reason I keep the same avatar, so that it helps people to find me.”

Palmer, who was in so deep with DeviantArt that he’d become friendly with its staff, was awakened to its A.I. efforts in a Twitter Space that DeviantArt executives set up in late 2022, when DreamUp was introduced.

“Lots of artists were pissed off about it the morning it launched,” he said. “On the Space, the leadership came off looking like bullies—like out-of-touch tech people that just want to make money off this thing. They wanted the artists to be like, ‘This is OK for you to do.’ That burned DeviantArt for a lot of people.” DeviantArt’s social media managers later deleted the tweet on which they’d hosted the Space.

It wasn’t the first time DeviantArt had incorporated a new tech “innovation” and gotten burned. Look no further than the NFT flood of the early 2020s , which DeviantArt attempted to monetize by offering an exclusive, subscription-based “protection tool” to notify artists when their works got ripped off into salable nonfungible tokens. While DeviantArt could take a cut of proceeds from price-inflated digital apes, it could make even more with small transactional fees from A.I. “works” uploaded quickly and in bulk.

“Making $25,000 or $12,000 as a DeviantArt user, like those A.I. accounts did, that’s not typical—that’s on the high end for a lot of stuff,” said Southen. “If you have to have almost 10,000 images up and sold to make $25,000, that’s a sheer volume game. It’s not a quality game, and it’s not an interest game.” And these days, it’s a game that’s ever easier to automatically engineer.

Now artists who made their way into the industry via platforms like DeviantArt are working to figure out how to preserve such avenues for another generation of artists.

To take it from the publishing industry, A.I. is already decimating once-common job prospects. An April report from the Society of Authors found that 26 percent of the illustrators surveyed “have already lost work due to generative A.I.” and about 37 percent of illustrators “say the income from their work has decreased in value because of generative A.I.”

There’s little relief to be found in other sectors like gaming, where companies like Activision are already hiring young artists to “polish” generative-A.I. output. Or even in cinema, per the Canadian artist: “I’ve heard stories about companies going all in on A.I. imagery for matte paintings for movies—those sorts of things that used to be done by a digital artist—and then discovering that A.I. can’t take feedback.”

Jingna Zhang is hoping that—by suing her old home of DeviantArt and in suing Google over its Gemini image generators in a proposed class-action suit she filed with other artists last month—she can center these knotty discussions of artist ownership and copyright. It’s anyone’s guess as to how the DeviantArt suit will go, especially as other litigation continues against these A.I. firms from journalism outfits, actors, and audio narrators. In one promising sign for these plaintiffs, though, the district judge overseeing the case indicated earlier this month that he will likely allow the amended copyright-infringement complaints to proceed to discovery . (He may also dismiss the breach-of-contract charge against DeviantArt, whose attorney continues to argue that the site’s actions constitute “ classic fair use .”) Here, Zhang may have help from other advocates like Southen, who’s published results from experiments with Midjourney that have spit out copyright imagery from big-name intellectual property titans like Marvel and DC.

In the meantime, Zhang has also been running Cara , a volunteer-controlled digital portfolio and social app that explicitly ensures that the work shared there is human-made. Incidentally, one of its users is Angelo Sotira , who co-founded DeviantArt back in 2000. On his most recent post, he wrote that he’s “so sad to see the abandonment of real artists by other platforms in favor of AI generated stuff” and that “it’s so nice to check into Cara and see the soulful communication happening between real artists.”

This piece has been updated to clarify Jingna Zhang’s early role in the creation of CGHub.

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Column: My hope-filled visit in Aurora with a…

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Aurora Beacon-News Aurora Beacon-News Opinion

Column: my hope-filled visit in aurora with a group of tiktokers.

Columnist Denise Crosby talks about news literacy to a group of sophomore English students at West Aurora High School earlier this month. (Katie Johnson)

Earlier this month I had a chance to combine my love of writing and of kids when West Aurora High School English teacher Katie Johnson invited me to speak to a couple of her sophomore honors classes about a topic that is near and dear to my heart: NEWS LITERACY.

In a nutshell, that means having the critical thinking skills to be able to evaluate the reliability and credibility of news sources and other forms of information, including those often mistaken for journalism.

If you read this column regularly you likely know why I jumped at the chance to talk to young people about this topic. There is so much disinformation floating around out there and because humans are wired to believe stories that reinforce their own world views, social media has made it far easier than ever to fall into the so-called information silos without ever coming up for clean air.

As I’ve also previously noted, thanks to a law passed by Illinois in 2021, school districts like West Aurora are taking critical steps to incorporate news literacy lessons into their curriculums.

But teaching today is far more challenging than it was decades ago. It’s become especially demanding as educators, already competing with social media for the minds of Gen Zers, are dealing with students whose mental health was impacted by a pandemic that also threw their education into chaos.

Many continue to struggle, Johnson told me, noting how much more difficult it is for them to express themselves in person after being isolated for so long via remote learning and social distancing.

It came as no surprise to me when a roomful of hands shot up when I asked if TikTok was their major “news” source. I also have no illusions my personal narration about the decline of newspapers was any more interesting than had the topic been the extinction of dinosaurs.

Still, I came out of those classrooms with a smile on my face.

That’s because they listened. They seemed inquisitive. Even if many of their questions were prepared, there was a positive vibe of spontaneous curiosity that made me realize these kids are not only bright but they care.

I walked in with a folder of notes, all of which remained unused as we talked about how a literate public and vibrant press is necessary to recognize credible information.

We paid special attention to the importance of local news and how critical it is to a community’s overall health. Local media outlets, I read somewhere, are like public libraries and museums, necessary to preserve culture and to understand important issues, particularly those that encourage people to get involved and hold public officials accountable.

All of which are in jeopardy with the rapid decline of local newspapers. A recent report by Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism indicated that by the end of 2025, the U.S. will have lost a third of its newspapers and two-thirds of its journalists since 2005.

We also discussed the sheer volume of misinformation out there, which makes every one of us susceptible to being duped. My goal was to help them with recognizing those red flags. Their generation, more than any other, must know how to set and monitor accuracy, a time-consuming task that requires far more work than in the past.

While on vacation, I received from Johnson what she said was “unedited” feedback that quite truthfully made my day. Not only did these kids politely express gratitude for the visit, they seemed to really grasp the connection between a free press and our country’s ability to hold on to the democracy on which it was founded.

One student wrote that she’s even encouraged to start reading local newspapers. And one of my favorite comments came from a classmate who was curious as to whether I’d “come to the point where you have lost your love for writing …or are you getting there?”

Good interview questions are those that provoke reflection. This one was excellent.

Those of us who have been in journalism a while have certainly felt beaten down by the sea change we’ve witnessed. We were reminded of that again on Monday from the Chicago Tribune’s front page story by Robert Channick about the final press run at the Freedom Center, where until Sunday evening the “largest newspaper printing plant in North America” also printed the Sun-Times, the New York Times and all Trib suburban papers, including The Beacon-News.

After more than 40 years on that press, Tribune Publishing purchased a smaller suburban press that will continue to put out the print products. Thankfully, we continue to grow online subscriptions, but common sense would tell you, a local staff that’s shrunk as dramatically as ours here in Aurora can’t begin to cover the Fox Valley as we once did.

As I told Ms. Johnson’s students, this is not just a loss for journalists. Which leads me back to that really good question from one of her students.

In some ways, the answer is yes, my passion for this profession has waned over these dramatically changing years. We no longer have a bustling newsroom with dozens of reporters, photographers and editors to ignite enthusiasm or story ideas. We don’t get raises or respect from our hedge fund owner or as many opportunities to work on significant projects or investigations as we once did. And yes, we know we are competing against social media sites – including TikTok for heaven’s sake – which often use our hard-earned content while giving us no credit.

But talking to these kids about news literacy was not only fun, it was invigorating. And above all else, it was hopeful. After my visit, Johnson put together a survey for those classes to find out exactly how her students felt about the topics we discussed.

All agreed it is important to know what is going on in the world. All but one also indicated their major news source is from social media, yet the vast majority “disagreed” or “strongly disagreed” with the statement that “most teens are media literate.”

Oh, and 100% agreed (most of them “strongly”) it is critical they have the ability to access, analyze, evaluate and use all forms of media.

“I know many students my age do not listen to the news … but I believe it is important to do this” and “not use sources such as TikTok,” wrote one student in an optional survey comment section.

“Media literacy, to me is a strong indicator of intelligence, as it signals one’s ability to form original thoughts and opinions,” wrote another student.

There were other comments equally worth passing along. But I will leave you with one that I believe should resonate “strongly” even with all the adults out there: “The idea of democracy being challenged … really stuck out to me,” wrote a student, adding that so much misinformation floating around out there is not only affecting today, it will also have an impact on “the next generation’s future as well.”

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At the Home of BTS, Turmoil Over a Rising K-Pop Star

The firm Hybe has lost hundreds of millions of dollars in market value because of a feud with the creative force behind the band NewJeans.

A woman in a green T-shirt with white stripes and a Los Angeles Dodgers hat sitting at a white table. Behind her are five photographers.

By Jin Yu Young

Reporting from Seoul

The video had none of the hallmarks of K-pop. No catchy tune, no snazzy outfits, no slick dance routines. Definitely no stars. It was set in an unremarkable auditorium with plain white tables and a large projector screen.

But it included screenshots of chats between two power players in the industry and instantly became the talk of the K-pop world.

It was the live broadcast of a two-hour emotional tell-all delivered last month by Min Hee-Jin, the producer of NewJeans, arguably today’s hottest K-pop act. She had called a news conference to dispute accusations of corporate malfeasance by her employer, Hybe, the K-pop colossus behind BTS.

The unusually public and hostile feud — which has included allegations of plagiarism, chart rigging and shamanism — has led to hundreds of millions of dollars being wiped off Hybe’s market value. And it has cast a cloud over Hybe’s relationship with a rising star, NewJeans, while its biggest act, BTS, is on hiatus.

“It’s about money, it’s about control and also the ownership of an artist,” said Andrew Eungi Kim, referring to NewJeans. A professor at Korea University, Mr. Kim studies the country’s cultural influence, a phenomenon known as hallyu.

The members of BTS, who are all serving in South Korea’s military because of mandatory conscription, are not expected to reunite until next year. As some of them have released solo albums, NewJeans has racked up its share of accolades. In the past year it has topped the Billboard 200, played at Lollapalooza and appeared in commercials for Apple and Coca-Cola.

The creative force behind the act is Ms. Min, who was recruited by Hybe to develop a girl band. Her pushback against Hybe and its founder, Bang Si-hyuk, has resonated widely in South Korea, where corporate life can be punishingly hierarchal .

“She’s like a powerless visionary who is fighting against a giant corporation,” Mr. Kim said.

Started nearly two decades ago as a label called Big Hit, Hybe became the dominant force in K-pop thanks largely to the global success of BTS. It went public in 2020, and a year later, its market value peaked around $12 billion. Since then, its shares have lost about half of their value amid concerns that it would not be able to replicate the profitability of BTS.

Hybe has had success with other groups like Seventeen and Tomorrow X Together. It has also expanded in the United States with deals like the purchase of Ithaca Holdings, whose roster of artists has included Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande. In 2022, it released NewJeans’ first single, “Attention,” without the characteristic fanfare of K-pop debuts. The following year was Hybe’s most lucrative on record, with the company posting annual profit of about 186.6 billion Korean won, or $136 million.

One of the first public indications of the turmoil at Hybe came on April 22, when it announced that it was going to audit Ador, a subsidiary run by Ms. Min. It accused Ms. Min of illegally trying to take control of Ador and asked her to step down. Hybe owns 80 percent of Ador, Ms. Min has an 18 percent stake and the rest is owned by other executives. On April 25, Hybe filed a police complaint against her.

Ms. Min responded publicly the same day with a news conference. Dressed in a green T-shirt with white stripes and a Los Angeles Dodgers hat, she appeared disheveled and broke down several times. She rejected Hybe’s accusations and shared screenshots of chats with Mr. Bang, the firm’s founder, that she suggested were proof of a fraught work environment.

She also said that she had not been compensated fairly and accused Hybe of plagiarizing her work with NewJeans to improve other acts. Hybe has denied her allegations.

To Ms. Min, the dispute was a tug of war between creative and corporate interests.

“All I care about is NewJeans,” Ms. Min said in comments that were livestreamed by the major South Korean broadcasters.

Two days later, a new song by NewJeans, “Bubble Gum ,” was released as scheduled.

In a written response to questions, Ms. Min said, “It is time to reconsider the nature of the entertainment industry.” For K-pop to keep prospering, she added, the industry needs to focus “fundamentally on creators and creation” instead of on money and management.

After Ms. Min’s appearance, rumors involving Hybe artists, chart-rigging and cults circulated the internet. To fans, this sullied the image of their favorite acts.

One group of BTS fans took out an advertisement in local newspapers, criticizing Hybe for airing its dirty laundry. Another protested outside Hybe’s offices.

Ian Liu, a NewJeans fan from Jakarta, Indonesia, had a similar sentiment. “The artists are collateral damage,” he said.

Hybe was also involved in a public feud last year, though that was with outside parties. It was a bidding war for SM Entertainment , another K-pop firm, that was won by Kakao, a South Korean technology giant.

The dispute with Ms. Min, who is the chief executive of Ador, is headed to the courts.

“It’s hard to predict what will happen at this point,” said Lee Gyu Tag, a professor of cultural studies and anthropology at George Mason University’s Korea branch. “In the end, this issue between Hybe and Ador will be a learning opportunity for other agencies to learn how to effectively manage their companies.”

Jin Yu Young reports on South Korea, the Asia Pacific region and global breaking news from Seoul. More about Jin Yu Young


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