Writers are famous for being a solitary, grouchy bunch, who warm their tired fingers by feeding critical reviews of their work into rusty wood stoves, in mossy-roofed cabins perched on lonely mountain slopes.
But actually, we need feedback, and to see a fresh face now and again. Say, once a month or so. That's what writer's groups are for.
As we have traded the Underwood for the MacBook, we have also started to include the Internet as a location to hold meetings for our writer's groups. Sometimes the core of a group meets in person while others attend virtually, but sometimes the whole meeting is online.
This freedom to meet "wherever, whenever," is enabled by a new conference call technology called free group video calling, which is allowing writer's groups to collaborate more efficiently over distance and share our work. Here are five tips for using it.
1. Quick Scheduling
Who has time to burn setting up meetings? Nobody. Luckily, online meetings are just as easy to set up as our yack session at the pub on Thursday. Signing up takes just a few minutes, and you only need to enter everyone's emails once. Use Doodle to pick a day to meet, and then use Call Scheduling to send out automatic Invitations and Reminders. If you meet regularly, the Recurring Call feature makes scheduling automatic, and you can use the drop down menus to easily add new people, or subtract anyone who gets a rich publishing contract.
2. Ultimate Freedom
One of the great glories of Web Meetings is you don't have to waste time travelling to and from them. Also, if rejection slips are piling high, you can attend while lying in bed with the covers pulled over your head.
If you happen to be driving across the country in a Galaxie 500 like Jack Kerouac or Hunter S. Thompson, you can use the Mobile Conference Call App to check in and relate your latest tales to those who will understand.
3. Face To Face
Nothing is harder than trying to offer constructive criticism of a piece of writing if you can't see the face of the recipient. Can you really tell someone the truth if you can't look them in the eye? Even more than simple convenience, perhaps honesty is the most compelling reason for writer's groups to use Free Group Video Calling.
4. Easy Collaboration
Free Screen Sharing is another fantastic feature of free web meetings for writer's groups. Sometimes it's just easier to edit something on screen than to tell somebody how. After all, even Charles Dickens ran on a bit long without saying anything in particular. For such mundane but all too common eventualities, he had an eraser.
Desktop Sharing is 100% democratic, and puts a pencil with an eraser on top in everybody's fingers.
5. Capturing Ideas
One conference call Feature that you might want to think about, although it is one of the very few that isn't free, is Conference Call Recording, which will faithfully record the entire online meeting of your writer's group, and sling you an MP3 file of it 2 hours later. Then you'll never lose an inspired comment, and you'll always know exactly who came up with that killer line.
Call Recording is a great way to make sure you don't miss out on the inspirations that can come from group collaboration. It can really help with copyright issues too!
Keep in touch
Free Group Video Calling is a great modern tool for writer's groups to keep connected, to meet regularly, to create ideas together, and to polish their craft. It can be used as a back-up when some members can't attend regular in-person meetings, or provide a framework for writers to collaborate across any distance at all.
Whether you write from a lonely cabin, a wave-tossed beach hut, your mother's basement, or your plain old wooden dining table, online meetings are a free and convenient for writers to work together.