2020 UPDATE: This group is nearly at capacity, and we're being more selective about who can join. When you fill out the "application," make an effort. Show us that you're someone that we want to work with and hang out with. If your application is left pending, hang tight and don't be offended. As spaces become available, we'll comb through and add more people. That said . . .
This group has been around since 2002, but we didn't join Meetup until 2013, so we never really know who's going to show up. (Fun!) We have a large email list that's completely separate from this website, and we get about 5 to 10 people per meeting just from that. Most importantly, this group is commitment-free. Some of our members attend nearly every meeting; others show up once a month or even once a year. The main rule is to bring something to work on for the first hour. No assignments. No prompts. It's just a solid chunk of quiet time that you can use however you want.
After the writing, there's a short break, and then we gather a little closer to take turns introducing ourselves. After that, we spend another hour or so doing an informal reading of our work. No one is ever forced to read -- that's not our style -- so at any given meeting, about a third of the people might end up sharing something. Some people read stuff they've been working on for a while. Others read what they've written during the hour. There's no need to bring copies because we read aloud. Each person gets eight minutes, which includes time for others to offer feedback, so we keep things moving at a pretty good pace.
People in this group have written and shared all kinds of stuff: novels, short stories, journal and diary entries, poems, personal essays, memoirs, plays, screenplays, articles, dialogues, outlines, limericks, newsletters, blogs, kids books, science fiction, erotica, comedy, book proposals, cartoon strips, horoscopes, wedding speeches, eulogies, and song lyrics. Anything goes, and the same is true for your writing experience. You don't have to be published or submit samples in order to join. The purpose is to have a varied crowd and a relaxed setting where we actually do some writing and have a chance to hang out and meet fellow writers, and since people often ask, we're mostly in our 20s, 30s, and 40s.
We get together every week or two. There's no regular location because we usually meet in people's homes all over the place. (If you can host, please speak up!) Once or twice a year, we meet at a big, antiquarian bookstore in midtown. In warmer months, we meet semi-regularly in Central Park and other outdoor spots. We've even taken a few road trips as a group, but we almost always stay within MetroCard range. About once per month, we meet on weekend afternoons, but we usually do our thing on weeknights from 7pm to 10:30-ish. People are welcome to show up late or leave early, so don't worry if these times aren't ideal. Can't make it for the writing hour? No problem. Come after that and check out the readings. That said, space is often limited and hosts buy snacks and drinks based on the number of people we expect, so if you RSVP and then it turns out that you can't make it, you must un-RSVP. This group really IS laid-back, but that's not an excuse to be flaky.
We don't have a set schedule. Some people are never free on Mondays, for example, while others can never make it on weekends, so we meet on different days of the week to accommodate everyone.
Finally, this group has always been free (and will remain so for people who are already part of it), but because it costs me more than $200 per year to have this group on Meetup, there's a one-time suggested donation of $2 -- not every time you show up, but just at the first meeting you attend.
That's it. Sorry for the long-ass description, but details are good, right?