Resources and tips for the self-published author.

How to do a virtual writing group with Skype, Google Hangout, or FaceTime

by Miral Sattar •  November 6, 2012  •   Follow miralsattar

Published in Publishing Tips  •  No comments

Everyone once in awhile I join the Twitter chat #writestuff to exchange writing ideas and tips. The chat, hosted by teacher-writer Andrea Cumbo (@andilit), happens every Tuesday night. In a recent chat I mentioned how virtual writing groups are a good way to stay motivated.  I got a lot of questions and decided to chronicle my experience on the BiblioCrunch blog.  Authors can even hold virtual writing groups for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) to keep motivated. How to do a virtual writing group

I took a really great writing class a few years ago, and one of the key takeaways was to form writing groups and keep on writing. However, my favorite writing pals live across the state and it was really tough to meet up at a location that was convenient for all of us. One of us would almost always bail. In one such bail instance there were only two of us left. Feeling kind of lazy and comfortable in my own apartment I said to my writing group partner (Piper), “Hey, want to try doing the writing group on Skype instead? We can do the writing group in our pajamas.”

Piper said she had never done a virtual writing group, but was down to try it since she didn’t have to trek all the way from Brooklyn to Midtown.

A few minutes before our normal meeting time I gave her my Skype id, each of us tested the video camera and wifi connection on our laptops and were ready to go.

Before our designated meeting time we had both written articles for the other to review and shared them via Google Docs with each other. Details on how we were able to have a successful writing group below.



1) Add each other Skype

2) Launch a video chat so you can see each other.

3) Upload the pieces you want to critique in Google Docs and share it with the members in your group.

4) Take turns reading aloud your piece to each other on Skype and give initial live feedback.

5) While the other person is reading aloud you should be making notes on their writing on their Google Docs. Make sure to track changes so the other person can see what changes you suggested.

6) Give each other critical feedback. You can make the changes right then and there on the shared Google Doc.

7) If you want you can also spend 30 minutes just writing. That’s it! You’ve basically done a virtual writing group.

If you have the Skype free version you can only do one-on-one sessions. The paid version allows for multiple people to be signed on.

You can pretty much do a virtual writing group as long as you have a video program. Other options include:

Google Hangout

1) You can do a similar session with Google Hangout and have multiple people.


1) You can also do a similar session with FaceTime on a Mac. FaceTime usually has the best and clearest connection but you can only do one-to-one.


What are some creative ways you’ve used to hold a writing group? Share them below!


About Miral Sattar

Lover of books. CEO & founder of Bibliocrunch. Love storytelling in all its forms. Formerly TIME. I'm a new media entrepreneur who has worked in the media industry for 11 years. My mission is simple – to innovate the publishing industry with technology. My company has been featured in BBC World News, Money Magazine, Bloomberg, Consumer Reports, Forbes, WSJ, MediaBistro, PBS, Columbia Journalism Review, The Next Web, Publishers Weekly, and a bunch of other places. Bibliocrunch was also selected as The Next Big Thing in media by the Paley Center. I also used to run a popular South Asian culture blog called Divanee. Before I ran my own company and became a mom, I used to be on the board for several literacy organizations, and wrote a LOT more. Hopefully, when things are calmer I can go back to that! :)