Thursday, May 22, 2008

Bay Area Writing Groups

Writing groups are essential for developing your creative toolbox. Share your work with others and learn more about your own writing process as you offer critical and supportive feedback. 

Artists & Writers Creative Group
This San Francisco group, a distinctive combination of salon and creative support group, welcomes committed writers and artists in all media who seek community and ongoing support for reaching creative goals. Led by Robert Ressler, a writer, artist and professional life coach who specializes in working with creative people, the group is intimate, personal, fun and designed for a consistent membership. For more information, visit the website or call 415.289.2212.

Creating, Not Critiquing
Since getting their MFAs in creative writing several years ago, the members of this group haven't written much new work. As writers, they claim to be a little creaky, rusty and low on oil. The idea of this group is simply to dust off your hands, put away your egos, pick up a pen, and dive in. So instead of a typical workshop-like approach, group members do writing exercises -- short, light-hearted "assignments" aimed at getting the machine cranking again -- and then share the results in a supportive group setting. If this sounds appealing to you, email the moderator.

Downtown Berkeley Writing Group
This small group of talented fiction writers meets every Tuesday between 7 pm and 10 pm in Downtown Berkeley. Each member reads out five to seven pages of fiction while other members voice opinions and offer helpful critiques. New members are welcome. Please email for more information.

East Bay Poetry Writing Group
This new group meets periodically at a restaurant for an hour or two to engage in writing exercises, critique each other's work, and enjoy a cup or plate of inspiration. The group meets on Sundays at 2:45 in downtown Oakland, email the moderator for details.

ESL Writing Group
Are you a writer whose English is a second language? Do you struggle with slang words, mental translation of concepts, and a cultural gap? Members of this group have a strong desire to express their ideas for publication, regardless of the language and medium. All genres are welcomed to join. Meetings will be scheduled monthly or as needed. Contact Jennie S. Bev for more information.

Fire Up Your Pens Poetry Workshop
Fire Up Your Pens is a small group that meets in the Berkeley hills, in a safe, fun and open setting, welcoming poets of all kinds. The group functions in a casual workshop setting, reading one poem, new or old work, and usually bringing five to ten copies for group members to discuss. Past poem topics have included sex, friendship, guilt, sitcoms, money, drugs, homelessness, detectives, dancing and, of course, the good old staples of heartbreak, lust and love. Anything's game! The goal of this workshop is to keep the members writing, to help each other, and to coax you out of your comfort zone and into dangerous territory. Perfection isn't the goal -- just experimentation and growth. If you're interested, email the moderator or call 510.486.1912.

Kicking Muse Writing Group
Kicking Muse was started in May 2001 to explore the idea of bouncing short-story fiction off a group of like-minded writers. The motivation was motivation. The group has proved a forum where creation is encouraged and procrastination discouraged. The group meets every second Tuesday in the Mission and currently consists of eight fiction writers, each with differing projects and goals. In a supportive group dynamic, writers are able to share work and pursue creative writing with a sense of structure. A small group setting ensures focus on two individual pieces each week, which means that every four sessions, two writers submit new work. Email us for more information.

The Lakeview Workshop
A new critique group in Oakland’s Lake Merritt district, this group meets Sunday afternoon twice monthly. This is a small group and very serious about writing. Their purpose is craft, but publishing is also on their minds. Members bring work and read it to receptive ears. Please send samples to Brook

Mechanix Poets
Workshop and reading group moderated by Yves Moralex. Topics change monthly, so check the schedule for current information. Bring selected poems on the topic to read and share. Dessert is served. The Mechanix Poets meets the second Tuesday of the month at the Mechanis' Library, Room 405. Free to members and public.

Menlo Park Writing Group
Been pounding away at the computer and looking for feedback? Serious about getting your work published? So are the members of this group. Just so we're all on the same page, to join this group you should be: a fiction writer (no poets please); committed (Willing to show up for meetings -- no excuses); serious (ready to share your work at least once a month); and supportive (happy to offer critique to other writers in the group). The group meets Monday nights to do writing exercises, discuss progress with current projects, and critique each other's work. If interested, contact Danielle

The Mysterious Writ
This East Bay writing group focuses primarily on mysteries, but is open to working with other genres. A unique company of writers, each brings different strengths to the table, with varying areas of expertise or insight. For more information go to or contact Charles A. King at 510.239.2239 x2321.

Ongoing Bay Area Writing Group
A long-time critique group that meets twice a month on Sunday nights, alternating between the East Bay and San Francisco, this group is interested in people who have made a commitment to their writing and take it seriously, preferring writers who are actively seeking publication. Members bring work to each session for group critique. For consideration, please send five poems or two pages of prose to Carolyn Miller, 1195 Green Street, San Francisco, CA 94109. For more info,

Orbit Room Writing Group
The Orbit Room Writing Group is a small group of writers, each working on a full-length novel. We are a diverse collective composed of people of different ages, sexes, races and sexual orientations. We meet every other Tuesday at the Orbit Room in San Francisco. Members submit selections and critique others' submissions on a regular basis. We want to keep the group small so that each member can submit frequently, and are only accepting submissions from writers working on or interested in working on a novel. If you would like more information, please

Pacifica Writing Group
Writing workshop for poetry, fiction and nonfiction. Ongoing, every other Thursday in Pacifica. Meeting time is 7:30 pm. If you would like more information, please

Poetry Mission Gatherings
If you live in the Bay Area or plan on visiting San Francisco, you must check out The Poetry Mission gatherings, every Thursday night at Someplace Else, 1795 Geary at Fillmore. Each week, members sit around a coffee table on cushy sofas, sipping beers and smuggling cheap Chinese from the joint next door, sharing their latest work, reading poems from their adolescence, and laughing at one another's attempts at poetry. (Just kidding.) Meetings begin at 7 pm, and go on until 9:30 pm. Provocative and illuminating, this is the place to get your poetry fix.

Post Script Collective: Poetry Performance Group
Currently interested in new members for group performance and related projects. Interested poets and writers can email Byron or call him at 415.430.2160 x 4922.

Professional Writer's Support Group
This group is for professional writers seeking support for their writing and business development. New members welcome! Meetings are every other Tuesday mornings at 11 am at La Boheme Café and Coffeehouse at 3318 24th Street (cross street Mission) in San Francisco. Email the moderator for more information.

Queer Women's Writing Group
A group of women who have worked together for some time, this group is committed to regular attendance and critical, thoughtful responses in a supportive environment, meeting every month, critiquing one or two pieces per meeting, and sometimes doing writing exercises. The group aims for diversity in terms of race, class, age, writing style, background, interests, etc. -- except you gotta be self-defined as queer and as a woman/3rd gender! If interested, please email us!

Redwood Branch of the California Writers Club
Established in 1975, the Redwood Branch is one of twelve California Writers Clubs branches statewide. Active Membership is open to published writers and those in related fields of writing. Monthly meetings are informative and fun with a variety of speakers including authors, agents and marketing experts. The group alternates luncheon and dinner meetings each month to accommodate different member schedules. In addition to the meetings, the group has several critique groups meeting on a regular basis. The Redwood Branch is also active in the community, conducting writing contests for school children, sponsoring information booths at the annual Book Fair in Santa Rosa, and offering workshops and seminars on writing at bookstores and other locations. Dues are $45 a year and new CWC members pay a one-time initiation fee of $20. New members submit a sample of their work for determining which category of membership they have achieved. For a free copy of our Redwood Writer Newsletter and membership information, please email Gil Mansergh or call him at 415.l823.8128.

San Francisco Writing Workshop
This group, which offers supportive critiques and feedback, has been meeting for many years, and originally started in the old SF Public Library. The group is always looking for new members -- you can just sit and listen without reading if you want to. There are no dues or membership fees. Meets every Tuesday at 7 pm in the Meridian Gallery, 2nd floor, 545 Sutter Street between Mason and Powell. For more information, email

Santa Cruz Writing Group
This group meets every Tuesday evening at 7:30 pm at the downtown Borders bookstore (upstairs in the café). The group, which is sponsored by Borders, focuses mostly on writing technique and pre-publication issues. Each week the group discusses writing from members, fiction or non fiction, focusing on short pieces or segments from novels. New members are always welcome. For more information, go to or

Santa Cruz Magical Realism Writing Group
New Santa Cruz fiction writing group forming, catering to writers of surrealism, magic realism, science fiction and fantasy. Let's drink coffee and hang out and write and laugh and get published! If you're interested in joining, email the moderator for more information.

Science Fiction & Fantasy Novel Writing Group
This new group meets Sundays at 12:30 pm at the Main S.F. Public Library. Meetings are for two or more hours: the first half consists of discussion of elements of writing, such as character or style, and the second half consists of reading and feedback of one or two members' work. The group is open to new members who are currently working on a novel. Also open to changes in meeting time and day to accommodate all members. Contact Jay Mosesson by email or phone: 415.674.3738

Sex & San Francisco Writing Group
If you are a professional single woman in your late 20s to early 30s with an active social life and a great group of friends who share extensive "Sex and the City" experiences, and you take pride in writing fun, witty emails and letters, then you might consider this wacky group in which women share their stories and preserve their unique experiences. Don't pour your heart out over a drink and forget about your thoughts the next day. Don't limit your writing experiences to a journal or to email. Be proactive and pursue this project with like-minded women. Editing and writing experience a definite plus, although not required. Let's chat!

South Bay Writers
The South Bay Writers meet the second Wednesday of each month at 6 pm at the House of Yo Rong Restaurant in Cupertino, just off Hwy 85. However, several times a year, weekend workshops are conducted in place of the regular meeting. With Pulitzer Prize-winning speakers like Al Martinez, who spoke in July 2001, the usual fees ($14 members or $19 guests), which include dinner, are clearly a bargain. Clickhere to view their meeting schedule. Nonmembers are always welcome.

Write Now!
Founded as a critiquing resource for people with limited self-discipline, this group is in the beginning stages of some interesting projects. The crew meets every other week, determining what individual accomplishments for the next meeting, swapping plans, excerpts and advice. You don't have to be a professional to join the group, but you have to want to produce something meaningful, interesting and potentially publishable. If you're interested, please email the moderator with a description of what you're working on, as well as other things that could be helpful in assembling an effective group: interests, age, goals for your project and quirky things you would like other people to know about you. It's time to write!

Writers' Bloc
A small group of writers who get together and critique each other's work every two weeks seeks new members. Whether you are just finding your voice or you have a weekly byline in the New Yorker, you are welcome. Please be committed to sharing and improving your writing through the critique process. Of course, that includes being willing and able to critique others. Writers of all stripes are welcome -- poetry, fiction, non-fiction, novels, software manuals -- come and read. OK, maybe not software manuals. This group has no leader and no fees -- all they ask is that you be willing to commit to coming to meetings every other Wednesday at 7 pm, in a non-smoking apartment at Polk & Sacramento. For more information, email the moderator.

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