1. Everyone will preface their turn to share work with ‘This is really awful. First draft. Just written today.’ Even if it’s the most brilliant thing every written.
2. They will let you read your work out loud when you haven’t deemed it worthy of printing yet.
3. If they are a good group, they will tell you when your work is crap. But they’ll say it like this – ‘this is a great first attempt,’ or ‘you can always come back to this chapter when your draft is complete,’ or ‘Is this Times New Roman font? Just gorgeous.’
4. When you don’t have pages to share they will let you blather on about plot problems that you can barely articulate and yet they manage to give genius advice that gets you right back on track.
5. They buy the best books and share them with you. And they don’t even get upset when it takes you three months to return them.
6. They tell you to stop wearing flip-flops in the middle of October and then all laugh because - now that they think about it - you wear flip-flops all the time. And then you tell them to mind their own business and get back to the writing.
7. They are equally good at critiquing queries and bios and synopses as they are pages of a manuscript.
8. They go to each other’s books signings and book launches and comment on their book blog tours.
9. The first few minutes of group may be all about the coffee and cookies or how someone’s kid keeps getting the ‘thinking chair’ in Kindergarten, but they always know when to get down to business.
10. Nobody leaves until everyone gets the chance to share their work, or talk about plot problems, sometimes vent about rejections or celebrate good news. And no one knows better than the writing group how terrible the rejection is or how sweet the good news, because after all of their help, it feels like their news too.