Chip MacGregor

March 13, 2015

Using your Writing Group to Promote Literacy (a guest blog)


I never have trouble getting up before my alarm rings on a Saturday morning. For one, I’m looking forward to my weekly blog, SATURDAISIES, to go live. And second, it’s time to get together with my writing group, The Flying M-Inklings.

Let’s do confessions, shall we?

If I ever walked into our beloved coffee shop, The Flying M, and some oblivious and under-formed new guy was sitting at our M-Inkling table, I would probably commit a crime.Writing Group

(I’m not proud of it.)

But I’m kinda like the guy who walks into church on a Sunday morning to find that someone is sitting in his pew? Some oblivious and under-informed new guy and his wife – with four or five rugrats in tow? And the guy whose pew has been hijacked has to get his heart right with the Lord again because instead of being gracious and welcoming this new family into the church, all he really wants to do is clock him with a candle holder?

I would need a Divine intervention to stop me before somebody had to call the po-po… just sayin’.

Brilliance happens around our table. It’s where we M-Inklings make our plans and dream our dreams. It’s where we laugh and cry, sometimes at the same time. It’s where we write. I have christened that table, and it is ours. There’s no metaphor there – when we sneaked in a bottle of champagne to celebrate our one-year anniversary together, I popped the lid off of that sucker and the bubbly cascaded all over the table, the chairs, the floor, my lap… marking that sacred place. Ever since then, the Flying M-Inklings have made it a point to leave our mark wherever we go.

(There’s your metaphor.)

Your writing group should leave a mark on this planet. If your group has not considered how to promote literacy in your community and get your name out there, here are some suggestions.Flying M


  • First and foremost, THINK BIG! Ideas become things. Synergy fuels your collective creativity. The possibilities are endless, so go fearlessly into your world and invest in people. The rewards are phenomenal – you win as a writer in tandem with the other members of your group, and your community benefits as well. You will change lives – that’s not hyperbole – that’s a fact.


  • Build an online presence. You know your group needs a website, right? Don’t even pray about this – it’s a no-brainer. If you have caught the M-Inkling vision of becoming greater than the sum of your parts and your group becomes an entity all its own, then all your efforts deserve an online presence. On our website, we all post excerpts of our writing along with any and all of our events, but we also provide writing tips for writers everywhere. We share our experiences as we journey toward being published and the strategies we’ve used to market our products and self-promote and how we continually hone this craft we love so much. We don’t do everything right, and we’re glad to share those stories too. Learn from our mistakes. Be inspired by our struggles and our victories. Take what you can from us and give us helpful hints as well. We’d love to partner with other writing groups and build stronger networks. And we are pretty darn friendly.


  • Use your writing group to promote literacy. Four out of our seven have worked in the education industry, and three of us still do. Obviously, we are going to have opportunities to serve in this arena.

Nic is very involved with the Scholastic Writing/Art Contest. This is an amazing organization who gives young writers the opportunity to be heard and, ultimately, provides college scholarships. The first thing Nic had the M-Inklings do is stuff envelopes at his house to promote the event. Then we spent one of our Saturdays jurying students’ submissions for the state of Idaho. We were so encouraged by these young writers. Their work was amazing, and we were blown away by their talent. See how happy we are? Working together to help young writers would put a smile on your face too!


Katie is organizing a mobile book drive this summer called, The Lunch Bunch Book Club. She has partnered with the Oasis Summer Feeding Program, an organization that feeds children from low-income families in the summer months. The M-Inklings are collecting books right now for children ages 3 – 11, and we will be loaded up her son’s Ford F-150 (unless we can get a truck or RV dealer here in town to partner with us, which I’ll bet we could) and take this mobile library out to these neighborhood children.


Don’t ever pass up an opportunity to connect with people in your area. Right now Colby is currently mentoring a young writer for his senior project. Additionally, both he and Shannon are also looking into coming to the school where Nic and Daisy work to talk to our students about blogging and writing careers. Volunteer to work with agencies who share a common vision to promote reading and writing. Always be ready to jump in and make that difference everyone says they want to make. Do it.


  • Become known in the community.


We were pretty thrilled last November to host a write-in at the Flying M for NaNoWriMo. As it turns out, Colby knows a gal who was part of the NaNo effort here in the Treasure Valley, and she put the word out for us. Every Saturday of November from 7:30 – 11:00, we met with writers in our area at the Flying M Coffee Shop and wrote our little hearts out. (Incidentally, Colby hit his 50,000-word goal while AT the M on our very last Saturday – which we celebrated! I’ve only ever hit my 50,000 words the first time I participated in NaNo and write fewer and fewer words every year. I don’t want to talk about it.)


Very soon, the new Nampa Public Library is opening, and that is BIG NEWS for us! The M-Inklings will be seeking out ways we can help promote literacy among their clientele. We’ve talked about the possibility of providing students of all ages with free writing help with their schoolwork in exchange for free space for our writing workshops for people in the community who are toying with the idea of writing books or magazine articles or starting blogs. Our hope is that those in the latter group will pay for our expertise and help us offset all the vacations we like to take together. (When The Flying M-Inklings start handling money, I’ll have to check back in and let you know how that goes. But this is in our near future, so in the meantime, if your writing group has any advice for us on the subject of sharing group money, we’d like to hear it!)


Finally, we are in talks now with our beloved coffee shop to sponsor our very first Flying Mic Writers’ Night where we M-Inklings as well as other writers from the community read their work and slam down some poetry. Daisy will sell a few books. Brandon and Katie will promote the books that they’re working on. Shannon and Colby will promote their blogs. We’re hoping Cody can come down and make an appearance. And we’re pretty much going to make Nic emcee the whole event. (He’s only now finding this out as he reads this with you…)


These are only a few options of a myriad of possibilities. If your writing group is out in your community like we are, then we definitely want to hear from you. We want ideas! We are curious to know what kind of events you are sponsoring. Where are you in this process? Does your group make money? How do you handle all that? What are your ideas about the ultimate writing group? The M-Inklings will be checking in here on Chip’s blog, and we’ll write you back and answer any questions you may have. As you can see, we have some questions for you!Daisy


Talk soon!

Daisy Rain


Daisy Rain Martin is Editor in Chief for RAIN Magazine. She is also the author of Juxtaposed: Finding Sanctuary on the Outside and If It’s Happened to You, which can both be found on her website. Look for Hopegivers: Hope is Here in 2015.

Join the Rainy Dais Community and Friend Daisy on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. The incredibly talented creator of the Flying M-Inklings logo is Geoff Siler @

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  • CathyS says:

    My idea is not from a group like yours but it’s a good one so I thought I would share. My Indiana chapter of RWA helps a women’s shelter by donating used books that members no longer want. Some of the published authors may donate their own books but I’m not sure. Like many of my friends, I have more books than I could ever keep. I think setting up a way to donate them to someone who can use them is a great form of support and it doesn’t require fundraising. It’s a win-win. Cathy Shouse

    • Daisy Rain Martin says:

      That is definitely a win for all involved, Cathy! Thank you SO MUCH for keeping tabs on us — you’re awesome! I hope you’ll follow our website – – and keep in touch! We think you’re terrific.

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