Writing Circles

Milli Thornton and one of her Fear of Writing groups, fearofwriting.com

Milli with one of her writing circles

Writing Circles are groups that use the fun and zany Storyteller prompts from Milli’s book Fear of Writing to write a new story each week.

A safe space is created where members feel relaxed enough to read their stories to the group, even if they’ve never shared their writing out loud before.

The accent is on having fun and no one is ever pressured to read.


It’s easy! All you need to get started is one copy of the book and at least one other person who wants to have fun writing. New members will gravitate to your group by word of mouth. Your meetings should be FREE so all can attend.

The format is simple: The group chooses a new Storyteller prompt each week. (It’s always fun to see what a group of people comes up with using the same prompt.) Write for 30-45 minutes, then stop to read your stories out loud.

Choose a central location where you can meet once a week. Coffeehouses are ideal for writing circles. Make sure you check with the owner first—find out if the owner is happy to host a group of writers who intend to read their stories out loud. It’s also a good idea to encourage members to make regular purchases (coffee, baked goods, etc.) as a goodwill gesture for allowing your group to meet in the coffeehouse.

No one should be pressured to read if they’re not comfortable. Also, critiques are not a part of the Fear of Writing philosophy. Suggested guidelines may be printed for group use.

See below for suggested group guidelines.


I’ve really enjoyed my writing circle sessions! Thanks for bringing me out of my shell.
—Daisy Whisenant, Fair Oaks Ranch, Texas

I wanted to tell you how much the writing circle has helped me with my writing anxiety. I’m much more relaxed about it now. The exercises gradually taught me that if I just start writing, a story will come out—all I have to do is let it flow!
—Donna Coyle, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Milli and the Fear of Writing crew have come to my rescue. The weekly writing circles are great—a place where I can share my work with an appreciative audience, practice my skills, and learn from everyone involved. Thanks, Milli!
—Lainie Dulaney, Canyon Lake, Texas

The writing circle is always a nice, weekly entertaining social. We have fun and laugh a lot. As you know, laughter is good therapy for good health. We also learn about writing in a supportive, relaxed atmosphere. We turn our imaginations loose and, believe me, we’re all very imaginative!
—Doris Stump, Canyon Lake, Texas

We wrote the one about discovering you’re still in your pajamas at the office. I haven’t laughed so hard in a long time. Great fun!
—Donna Brown, Albuquerque, New Mexico

I’d like to thank Milli Thornton for the innovative writing technique she developed to help writers get over their fear of writing. I would also like to thank the friends in my Fertile Material writing circle who’ve written with me weekly for over a year, listened to me read my stories, and shared their writing with me. I think it has made me a better writer, certainly a happier one.
—Sandy Schairer, Albuquerque, New Mexico, from the dedication page in her e-book, Once Upon a Blue Moon


The group guidelines are available as a PDF that you can print as many times as you want to. Ideally, each new member should be given a copy when they join.

Group dynamics can be tricky. Everyone deserves a chance to be heard but some people habitually dominate group time. There are guidelines included to help with situations of that nature.

If your group decides some of the guidelines are too strict for their purposes, you can cross those off the sheet. But, be advised. If you have a tight-knit little group that works well together, that sense of harmony can be disrupted by new members who don’t respect group time. It’s recommended you keep those guidelines in place for a time when you might need them.

To print the guidelines, click on the PDF image below. The file should open in a new browser tab and you can print from there.


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