Creating a writing group with trusted friends and authors is one way to provide accountability, moral support, and feedback – and can be a great asset as you advance your writing career.

Every month for the past ten years, without fail, I have honored a commitment to three writer friends. Our purpose is straightforward: support each other as we work to advance our writing careers.

The three simple practices we employ contain the following benefits:

  1. Focused goals
  2. Assessed progress
  3. Record of accomplishment
  4. Gentle accountability
  5. Moral support
  6. Shared connections and resources
  7. Trusted feedback
  8. Rock-solid friendship

Create your own group, adopt (and/or adapt) these three practices, and enjoy these benefits while you advance your writing career.

Practice #1: The Writing Life Contract

Every six months we each create a “writing life contract” in which we map out our goals for the following six months. When six months have passed we review our contract, celebrate our successes, and create a new contract.

Our contracts include goals for each of the following areas:

  • Writing – research, drafting, writing, revising
  • Business of writing – submitting work, querying agents, following up on queries, applying for grants, networking, etc.
  • Reading – state specific reading goals; for instance, read thrillers to study pacing, or read novels by Colum McCann
  • Support – who you’ll support, who you’ll reach out to for support
  • Personal – whatever makes you happy and energetic, like literary events you plan to attend, health-related activities, spending time with friends, etc.

Read a sample Writing Life Contract.

Practice #2: The monthly check in

On the first of each month, the four of us exchange “check in emails.” We report in on each of the areas listed in our contracts, ask for advice, share valuable resources and reading recommendations, cheer each other on, commiserate, celebrate, and generally support each other in any way we can.

Practice #3: Exchanging work

Whenever we need readers for our work, we’re immediately there for each other. There’s nothing as valuable as long-term readers who have seen your work mature over time. Read more about the benefits of a writing group.

Don’t yet have a group?

  • Join a local Meet Up group.
  • Check your local library for group listings.
  • Take courses – in person or online – and connect with your new colleagues.
  • Attend a writers’ conference or retreat.
  • Find online forums where you can connect with other writers.

How about you? What helpful practices do you employ to advance your writing career? Share your comments below, and join us on Twitter Wednesday, November 18 from 4 – 5 PM (Eastern) for #BBChat. To be notified about our upcoming BookBaby Twitter Chats, sign up here!

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Joan Dempsey

About Joan Dempsey

Joan Dempsey has written 1 posts in this blog.

Joan Dempsey, a writer and teacher of writing, helps serious creative writers master their craft. Join her on December 8, 2015 for the free 1-week course, Revise Your Writing: Where to Begin, introduced by Jane Friedman.

16 thoughts on “Three Simple Practices for Advancing Your Writing Career

  1. Michael says:

    I’m 64 years old and have been published several times.

    1. Johanna Hefer says:

      Wow congrats!!!!

    2. Joan Dempsey says:

      Way to go, Michael! 🙂


    I’d love to be in touch with other ‘like minded’ people, with whom I can commiserate for the advancement and progress of my writing.

    Love and Light

    Maria Michaelides

    1. Joan Dempsey says:

      Hey Maria,

      Feel free to join my private Revise with Confidence Facebook Group, if you’re on Facebook. You can find that here:

      I hope you’ll employ some of my suggestions for finding your group of like-minded souls. Do you have something planned to make that happen?

    2. Verbieann Hardy says:

      It is a great idea to have a supportive circle. Any one wants the adventure of a virtual group?

  3. Johanna Hefer says:

    Wow I would love this!!!!

    1. Joan Dempsey says:

      Go out and make it happen, Johanna! You can do it! 🙂

  4. Sally M. Chetwynd says:

    I like these ideas. Since July, I have been talking with a fellow writer in my town about building our own writers’ group, but we haven’t yet set it up. This post will help us to define our mission.

    1. Joan Dempsey says:

      So glad to hear that, Sally!

      In the Twitter chat yesterday on this topic I shared these thoughts about best practices for forming a group:

      Choose people you care about, whose work you respect, and who are as serious about writing as you are.

      Be deliberate about your group’s purpose. Decide together what you want to achieve, then structure the group accordingly.

      Be consistent and reliable. Give the other members your full support and attention. Keep your promises. Be relentlessly generous!

      Hope those tidbits help guide you.

  5. Kimberly says:

    Way to go all of y’all keep up the good work, I am also a published Author and it has been so hard to get the help that you need, so if there is anyone our there that can help me out on this journey of getting a publisher or a literary agent for my work, so if you’ll could please get back with me and my email address you should have it.

    So thank you very much for your help.

  6. Adan Ramie says:

    Great advice as usual, Joan. I only joined a writing group for the first time this month (for NaNoWriMo), and already, I’m really enjoying it. However, I’ve felt a little like we didn’t have too many definite goals. I’m definitely going to recommend we start doing the writing life contract and monthly check in e-mails to keep each other on track. Thanks for a great post!

    1. Joan Dempsey says:

      Hey Adan,

      Great to hear from you! Sorry for the delayed response (didn’t get notified, for some reason) on this. So glad you’ll be able to apply the writing life contract and check-ins to your group processes. Would love to hear how that works out for you.

      Wishing you nothing but joy and good challenges in your writing for the new year.

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