"There is a strange paradox about writing novels. It is simply this: there is no occupation in the universe that is lonelier, and at the same time depends more radically on a community, a commonwealth of other writers....As lonely as is the craft of writing, it is the most social of vocations."
~ Walker Percy, Signposts in a Strange Land

It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare; it is because we do not dare that they are difficult.
~ Seneca

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Local and regional writers organizations

Looking for a local writers association, community, group, guild, or league? Or for a national or international group with local branches? Listed here are official local and regional groups, but sometimes the most effective local groups for writers and/​or editors are informal groups. For freelancers, such a group is one way to alleviate cabin fever.

One group of magazine writers, editors, and book authors, for example, began meeting once a month for networking sessions, and the group grew to about 50 people. The group invites guest authors to give 20-minute talks, after which members network. Members bring dishes to share, no fees are charged, and members find work through the networking.

Another, smaller, group meets the same day and place every week, after office hours, just to schmooze, vent, gossip, give and ask advice. Some groups meet to critique each other’s work. Some meet to discuss special-interest topics (such as Victor Block's group in DC, which discusses travel writing). At the bottom of this page you'll find Kathryn Lance's description of Tucson Women Writers, which I post here as a model of how you can start your own local group.

If you don’t know of any such group where you live, start one. It’s comforting to have a local support group with which to vent, brag, query, bitch and moan, and exchange shop talk. Meanwhile, the larger organizations provide a place to make connections and learn about your craft. Sometimes their strength lies in practical features such as health insurance. (Disability insurance is harder to come by for writers; insurance firms think a writer wants to stay home and write the great American novel.) On the whole, you get a lot more out of a group if you are active and visible. You are unlikely to get referrals or make friends if you just sit and wait for things to come to you. If you make friends with people AND you do good work, and your name comes to mind when opportunities arise, then belonging to a group can work for you, both personally or professionally, if the group is a good fit for your skills and personal preferences.

You'll find more local and regional organizations listed under science writers and under specialty writing (where you will find many regional sports and writing organizations, including groups such as Southern Bowling Writers). Also, many, if not most, national organizations, have local chapters, so if you find a national organization that suits your interests, check to see if there are local chapters. And if you don't find something local, check out online communities (and critiquing groups) for writers and editors.

American Independent Writers (AIW), formerly Washington Independent Writers, in Washington DC. This organization in 2012 is either critically ill or dying--the September conference was cancelled and Donald Graul said refunds would be issued.

Arizona Children Book Writers and Illustrators

Atlanta Writers Club

Authors of the Flathead (Montana)

Association for Women Journalists (AWJ, Springfield, Illinois) '

Bay Area Editors' Forum (BAEF), strong organization in San Francisco Bay area

Boulder Media Women (BMW, Colorado. has been meeting for 20 years)

California Chicano News Media Association (CCNNA, Latino Journalists of California)

California Writers Club

Chesapeake Bay Writers Club (a chapter of the Virginia Writers Club)

Chicago-Area Writers Resources (maintained by Writers Workspace)

Chicago Dramatists

Chicago Women in Publishing (CWIP)

Chicago Writer Resources Guide (Chicago Writers Association)

Chicago Writers Association (CWA)

Colorado Authors' League

Colorado Springs Fiction Writer's Group (CSFWG)

Connecticut Authors and Publishers Association (CAPA)

East of Eden Writers Conference (always held in Steinbeck Country--Salinas, California--sponsored by South Bay Writers (Santa Clara Valley branch of the California Writers Club)

Editorial Freelancers Association (EFA, /a> its regional U.S. chapters)

Fellowship of Southern Writers (FSW)

Florida Writers Association (local FWA writers groups in Amelia Island, Avon Park, Boca Raton, Boynton Beach, Bradenton, Brandon, Brooksville, Casselberry, Celebration, Daytona Beach, Fleming Island/​Orange Park, Hallandale Beach, Havana, Jacksonville, Kissimmee, Lady Lake, Lakeland, Longwood, Maitland, Melbourne, Mount Dora, Ocala, Orlando, Oxford, Palm Beach, Palm City, Palm Coast, Pembroke Pines, Pone Vedra Beach, Port Orange, Sanford, Sarasota, Sebring, St. Augustine, St. Lucie County--Treasure Coast, St. Petersburg, Tampa, Wellington, and Wesley Chapel)

Geneva Writers' Group (expats in Geneva)

Georgia Writers Association (GWA)

Great Plains Writers Group (nonprofit group to support developing writers of memoir, autobiography, and personal essays, based in Lawrence, Kansas)

Gridiron Club (invitation-only social club for Washington Journalists)

Grub Street (nonprofit writers center in Boston)

Gulf Coast Writers Association (GCWA, Florida)

Hawai'i Island Writers Association (HIWA)

San Diego Writers/​Editors Guild (meet 4th Monday of each month)

San Francisco Writers' Grotto (an office for the creative, self-employed people who by definition don’t need to punch a clock. From its beginnings, it’s been a place where narrative artists–writers, filmmakers and the like–welcome the discipline of structure in their work lives, and build a community of peers)

San Francisco Writers Workshop, moderated by Tamim Ansary, author of West of Kabul, East of New York. Here's Frances Dinkelspiel's story about the group (SFGate, 6-4-13).

Six Nations Writers (Six Nations of the Grand River).

Virginia Writers Club, which has local chapters: Appalachian Authors, Blue Ridge Chapter, Chesapeake Bay Writers, Hampton Roads chapter, Hanover Writers Club, Northern Virginia Chapter, Richmond, Riverside Writers (for the city of Fredericksburg, counties of Spotsylvania, Stafford, King George, Caroline, Louisa, Orange and all surrounding areas), Traveler chapter (meetings held in Chester), Valley Writers (Roanoke and surrounding areas).

Whidbey Island Writers Association (WIWA), supported by the Northwest Institute of Literary Arts (NILA)

White County Creative Writers (Arkansas)

Wild Writing Women (San Francisco Bay Area Writers Group)

Willamette Writers

Wisconsin Writers Association

Women in Digital Journalism (Seattle-area editors, writers, and producers in new media)

Women's Media Group (WMG). A New York-based nonprofit association of women prominent in various fields of media (especially book publishing, print journalism, electronic and online publishing, television and film). Membership by invitation only; if you aren't prominent enough to be invited to join, find a member who will bring you to one of their interesting lunches. From their history: "In the early 1970s, several women, friends and publishing colleagues, began meeting for lunch every now and then to talk about their jobs, their lives, their plans and hopes for the future. By the autumn of 1974, the group of five -- Judith Daniels, Elizabeth Crow, Joni Evans, Eden Lipson and Carol Rinzler -- decided the time had come to form a club. In the beginning the club grew exponentially as each of the five founders invited colleagues to join in on discussions of forming a club of like-minded women in the communications industry."
Various other women's media groups have sprung up, and if they will tell me about themselves, I will gladly list them. (Maybe they prefer to fly under the radar?)
This week a friend in Denver wrote, "the women in the Boulder Women's Media group are amazing," so I'll start there, although their main website doesn't appear to be ready yet: Boulder Media Women. BMW's freelance directory includes writers, editors, photographers, journalists, filmmakers, graphic artists, web designers, TV producers, screenwriters, publishers, agents, PR specialists, and others.

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Tucson Women Writers is a small, private group of professional women writers in and around the Tucson (AZ) area. The group was started as a listserv in 2001 by a Tucson freelancer, as a way to help ease the occasional loneliness of freelancing and to share information with other like-minded writers. Over the years, the group has grown a bit, but with new members and dropouts tends to stay at around twenty members. This seems to be an ideal number, allowing everyone to get to know everyone else, yet providing a critical mass of expertise.

New members are usually found through word of mouth. Once a new member is proposed by any member, she will be accepted provided that no one (privately) objects to her within a week. The founder of the group has always put an emphasis on inviting people who are published and actively seeking publication, to eliminate mere wannabes. We are all happy to help newcomers, but that is not the purpose of the group, which instead is to provide virtual companionship, to share information, and to interact with fellow professionals with whom you can commiserate or share good publishing news.

The listserv is our primary means of communicating with each other, but we also meet in person every couple of months, for a luncheon or a happy hour. It’s always fun to put faces to names, though some members never or rarely participate in the face-to-face meetings.

In the seven years I’ve been a member I’ve found TWW to be a valuable part of my professional and virtual social life. I’ve learned a lot about local and national markets, and enjoy reading about the triumphs and awards of fellow members. I would never hesitate to ask a question, and do my best to provide assistance when I myself have answers. There is by happenstance an emphasis on travel writing in TWW, but writers of all sorts are members. Though I’m semi-retired as a writer, I am very clear that writers are MY PEOPLE, among the most generous and articulate on the planet. TWW is an exemplar of this spirit, and I think could serve as a model for any small group of writers who wish to band together.

~Kathryn Lance
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