Lisa Cooper Ellison

Build Better Critique Groups

How to establish, run, and get the most out of your writing group


Lisa Cooper Ellison


Live on April 20, 2022, or watch recording


Writers who desire constructive feedback from peers


Closed captions by Otter; transcript provided with recording

You’ve finally found time to write, but you don’t want to go it alone.

Or maybe you’ve enjoyed a solo creative journey for a while, and now you’re ready for a little feedback but you don’t know where to turn.

Perhaps you’ve been trading writing time for Cheetos and Netflix binges and want to get back on track.

Or your post-MFA writing life has been a bit ho-hum, and you want to reignite the spark that made you fall in love with stories.

A healthy, vibrant writing group can increase your creativity, productivity, and motivation. But not all groups or group formats are helpful. Even groups brimming with enthusiastic, supportive members can stall your progress if what they offer clashes with what you need. And let’s face it, an unhealthy group, or a great group with one bad actor, can stomp all over your projects and your enthusiasm.

So how do you find a writing group that matches your goals, skill level, and the stage of your writing project?

During this 75-minute live class taught by Lisa Cooper Ellison, we’ll examine the different kinds of writing groups writers can form, how these groups support different stages in the writing process, and how to find the group that’s right for you. We’ll also talk about healthy group norms, how to handle feedback, the common conflicts groups experience, and the importance of vetting group members. You will learn how to:

  • Decide which writing group best matches your needs, abilities, and the stage of your manuscript
  • Find or form the group you need
  • Use a simple interview to identify a group’s purpose, even if its members can’t articulate it
  • Quickly discern between healthy and unhealthy groups
  • Establish group norms that nurture writers and support healthy communication
  • Gracefully exit a group that’s no longer serving you

Attendees will receive a workbook that includes the types of writing groups you can find or form, a self-assessment that will help you choose the right group for you, a list of essential group norms and tips for handling conflict, and a process for starting or modifying a writing group.

Who should take this class

  • Writers curious about where to find feedback or potential beta readers for their manuscripts
  • Writers interested in finding a solid writing group
  • Writers interested in leading a group or recruiting new members
  • Writing group leaders and members who want to evaluate their group’s norms and make them stronger
  • Writers who’ve been burned by a bad writing group, and yet crave a writing community

What’s included in all of Jane’s classes

How do I attend the live class?

This class uses Zoom webinar technology (see system requirements). You will join through your Internet-connected computer or mobile device. When you register, you will receive information via email on how to join the class. If you don’t receive it within 1 hour of registering, please contact us.

  • When: Wednesday, April 20, 2022
  • Time: 1:00–2:15 p.m. Eastern / 10:00 a.m. Pacific
  • Fee: $25

The webinar is broadcasted via the internet with live audio delivered through your computer or mobile device speakers. The visual presentation is displayed directly from the presenter’s computer to your computer screen. The Q&A is managed through a chat-style submission system with questions read and answered by the presenter for the entire class to hear.

Closed captions are provided during the live class. We use Zoom’s automated closed caption service (powered by Otter), which is about 80%+ accurate. We also use Otter AI to generate an unedited transcript, provided with the recording.

Lisa Cooper Ellison

About the instructor

Lisa Cooper Ellison is an editor, writing coach, and speaker with an Ed.S in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and a background in mindfulness. She has spent the last two decades helping clients and students turn difficult experiences into art and currently teaches courses in memoir, creative nonfiction, scene writing, and mindful writing practices. Her life story and essays have appeared on NPR’s With Good Reason and in Hippocampus Literary MagazineKenyon Review OnlineHuffington Post, and The Guardian, among others. 

Lisa’s course was fantastic. Thanks for making her expertise and course materials available! Everything was done at an impressive level of professionalism.

Sam Farler, student

Lisa is both an accomplished teacher and very talented practitioner of mindful writing. She is a very capable, empathic and insightful writing teacher, who creates and sustains a safe, warm space for students to learn and become successful writers themselves.

Rita Hart, student

Time flew by, an indicator that the webinar was good and on point. Thank you to Lisa for offering us a generous amount of useful info. My questions were answered.

Gillian Foster, student

All students receive the following

  • Access to the live class. After roughly 60 minutes, Lisa will take questions during class using in-class chat/text. The class will end after roughly 75 minutes.
  • A recording of the class—audio and video. This is especially helpful if you have a conflict with the class time or something comes up and you can’t make the session. Each registration comes with access to the archived version of the program and the materials for 30 days. You do not have to attend the live event to access the recordings.
  • Presentation slides. All participants receive a copy of the slide presentation in PDF form.
  • Rough transcript. We use Otter to create an automated transcript of the entire webinar, which we’ll share with you in addition to the audio and video recording.
  • Supplementary materials. After the class, all students will receive a workbook that includes the types of writing groups you can find or form, a self-assessment that will help you choose the right group for you, a list of essential group norms and tips for handling conflict, and a process for starting or modifying a writing group.

Event Attendance & Anti-Harassment Policy

We strive to provide an environment where all present—whether attendee, presenter, or staff—can feel supported. In order to ensure a welcoming event, here is what we expect from all who participate.

  • That the presenter and the presenter’s work be treated with respect by attendees and that all attendees treat each other with respect and a generosity of spirit.
  • That attendees will refrain from harassment of any sort including (but not limited to) comments or questions of a racist, homophobic, sexist/sexual, or threatening nature. This includes actions that disrupt or interfere with anyone’s ability to participate. Offenders will be disconnected from the live event.