Litgirl01 asked us about finding critique groups. Critique groups (or writer's groups) can be a great way to combat the loneliness of writing. They also provide valuable reviews by a group that stays with you long enough to see the evolution of a long story or novel. And, a good group will keep a writer on a regular schedule.
Critique groups can either be online or in-person. Online groups allow you to work with your own schedule, and perhaps more importantly for your question, they are easy to find!
1. The Zoetrope Virtual Studio was started by Francis Ford Coppola in 2000. Over 10,000 members participate, which may seem overwhelming, but the site is organized so that writers can go to separate “buildings” like the Short Story building, the Novella building, and of course, the Screenplay building. Writers within a specific genre can also find each other in public or private offices. Within the main boards, a writer must review 5 pieces for every 1 that they post. Reviews include ratings, and the reviews themselves are rated by the recipient. Bestsellers and editors frequent the site, even F.F.C. himself, on rare occasions.
2. Critique Circle Online Writing Workshop was started in 2003 by Sigrún Erna Geirsdóttir and Hulda Bjarnadóttir. It’s smaller, with about 2,200 active members. Like Zoetrope, you can participate in public or private forums. There’s a point system to maintain the proper checks and balances in reviewing the posting. This site can be free or it can cost money, depending on the services you want to have.
3. You can set up private online groups using sites such as Proboards. I’ve been a moderator for one of these sites for a few months, so let me know if you want an invitation to check it out.
4. In-person groups are harder to come by, but a good group is well worth the effort. I’ve been a member of two in-person groups. They’ve typically had about 5-6 members. I started one myself, which I think is a great way to stay focused on the genres you’re interested in. I simply sent a sign-up sheet around at a local author reading and made some follow up calls afterwards. Some of my published writing teachers rely heavily on their groups, which include both published and unpublished writers.
5. While I’d recommend starting your own, sites like Craigslist often post ads looking for people to join writers’ groups. (Just be careful who you meet.) You can also check out libraries and bookstores to see if anyone has posted up ads. If you’ve got writer friends or classmates that live close by, I’d start with them.