PAST the workshop stage, some authors join groups for support and inspiration :
Jenny Zhang was in sweatpants, wrestling one Sunday afternoon with a short story that wasn't coming together. She typed out an email to seven other writers : ''Yo. Can we meet up next week? I have something that I kinda semi-urgently'' - the g key on her keyboard was broken - ''need help on.''

The story, which jumped back and forth between plotlines, was intentionally nontraditional, and she didn't want to lose that. The peers whose advise she sought, she said, ''would let the jagged edges remain'' while making the story ''better than it was.''

When she met with them, they helped her find the thread in the story, which she finished and included in her 2017 book ''Sour Heart.''

Writing is often considered a solitary act, but some writers have figured out a way to make the process more collaborative even before editors, agents and other publishing professionals get involved.

Zhang's group, which includes Alice Zola Kim, Karan Mahajan and Tony Tulathimutte, has been meeting every month since most of them were  undergraduate students at Sanford University.

Their sessions are highly structured, with deadline for submitting drafts and detailed manuscript notes, while other groups gather more informally to talk about their careers, commiserate over deadlines or gossip about the publishing industry.

''You will feel like writing is very lonely and very difficult and very frustrating and that you don't really know what you're doing,'' said the Chicago based writer Miki Kendall. But in a writing group, ''you can talk to other people in that place and that are feeling their way out.''

For Zhang, the group grew out of a need for more supportive space than the ones she was encountering in creative-writing classes.

''There would be. like, racist stories being put up and praised in workshops.'' she said. ''I didn't have adults or published writers to look up to, so it was nice to have this horizontal space.'' Over the years, aside from editing into another's work, they're also turned to each other for advice on choosing an agent or applying to writing residencies

That these groups are  self-selecting means they can be modified after their member's specific needs. Last year, David Greenburg, who teaches history and media at Rutgers University in New Bruneswick, N.J. was on Sabbatical working on a biography of Representative John Lewis when he decided to form a writing group to keep him accountable.

He emailed about a dozen academics and journalists who specialized in history, and most of them were game.

''We have a certain degree of expertise and knowledge about both content and approach that makes it a particularly informed, high-level discussion,'' Greenberg said.

Critiquing a chapter of forthcoming biography of of Judah Nejamin, a cabinet officer of the Confederate States, by James Traub, another member of the group. ''We got in a big discussion about slavery and Benjamin's slave-owning, and it led someone to encourage him to draw a more detailed portrait of slavery in New Orleans, where Benjamin lived. ''One of the members also recommended a a recent academic book that helped Traub's research on the topic.

Mira Jacob's critically acclaimed graphic memoir  ''Good Talk,'' which reflects on her life through the lens of race, sexuality and identity came about partly through the challenging discussions  with her writing group.

She left an earlier one, she said, after a member dismissed an early draft of her book as an example of what ''was running America.''

The honor and serving of the latest operational research on writers and inspirations, continues. The World Students Society thanks author Concepcion De Leon,


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