Lilly Dancyger of Barrelhouse Books Recommends...

I don’t know where I’d be without my writers group. We’ve been meeting every week—to critique each other’s work, give advice and pep talks, and troubleshoot this fickle industry—for almost three years now. We’ve helped each other through manuscript revisions, agent searches, submission blues, prepublication anxiety, and the publicity whirlwind. I cannot overstate how much of a lifesaver it is to have people in your corner through all of these ups and downs—people who believe in your work and push you to improve, and who are invested in your success so it feels less like you’re in this uphill battle alone. 

If you don’t have a writers group, get one. Seriously. 

Whenever I start evangelizing for writers groups (which is often), people ask how they’re supposed to find one, like it’s easier said than done. But that’s just it: Unlike residencies or workshops or MFA programs, you don’t need to rely on what’s already out there or wait to be invited or accepted—you can make your own! My writers group started with a Facebook post—you can form groups with people you’ve taken classes with, or met at conferences, or strangers you find on Twitter. And you can make the rules (how often you meet, how many pages you discuss each week, etc.) to suit your collective needs and preferences.

And if you don’t live somewhere with an active literary community, that’s okay—my group has been meeting over Zoom since the pandemic started, and while I miss our corner booth at the diner where we used to meet, it’s been working just fine. 

Lilly Dancyger, assistant editor, Barrelhouse Books