Why the Omission? Exploring the Articles of Confederation in Early Histories of the Revolution

I've been digging into the earliest histories of the American Revolution. Specifically David Ramsay's The History of the American Revolution in Two Volumes (1789) and Mercy Otis Warren's The Rise, Progress, and Termination of the American Revolution (1805). Ramsay's history contains 667 pages, Warren's history 700 pages.[1] In all of those pages, Ramsay devotes almost two pages to the Articles of Confederation, Warren a single, short paragraph.[2]

What does it mean that the first historians of the American Revolution--a man and woman who lived through and experienced the event--devoted so little time and space to the United States' first constitution?

In fairness to Ramsay, he does summarize why the Second Continental Congress drafted the Articles of Confederation: "the act of independence did not hold out to the world thirteen sovereign states, but a common sovereignty of the whole in their united capacity. It therefore became necessary to run the line of distinction, between the local legislatures, and the assembly of the states in Congress." (332) He also reflects on the powers granted to the "assembly of states in Congress" by the Articles of Confederation.

David Ramsay

As Ramsay recounts the powers the Articles of Confederation granted to the new national congress, he also reflects on why aspects of the confederation government proved weak: The new government did not have the power to regulate trade because Americans had so little experience trading with foreign powers on their own; the framers of the Articles didn't know they needed the power to regulate trade. The confederation government lacked a "power of compulsion" [power to tax] on the states because "the system of federal government was...more calculated for what men then were, under these circumstances, than for the languid years of peace, when selfishness urusped the place of public spirit, and when credit no longer assisted, in providing for the exigencies of government." (333)

Ramsay may have included the Articles of Confederation in his history, but his account is short and it doesn't attempt to describe the debate, conflict, and compromise that informed the drafting and ratification of the Articles of Confederation.

Why do these early histories lack details about the Articles of Confederation and how they came to be?

I can think of some possibilities:

Both Ramsay and Warren relied on the papers and correspondence of friends as source material for their histories. Did they largely omit the drafting and ratification of the nation's first government from their histories because their friends and correspondents weren't those who had participated in the drafting and ratification of the Articles? It's a possibility, but one I don't think will turn out to be the case.

Mercy Otis Warren

Could it be that the absence of the Articles of Confederation in these histories speaks to the fact that there was so much going on with the War for Independence that Americans were too distracted to care or notice the ratification of their first national constitution on March 1, 1781? This could be true, in part. I know from my work on the Revolution in Albany that on the ground most people were more concerned with survival than with the activities of a faraway congress.

Or perhaps the reason why Warren and Ramsay devoted so little time and space to the Articles of Confederation is that both published their histories with nationalistic goals and after the ratification of the Constitution of 1787. In fact, Ramsay purposely waited to publish his history until after the states had ratified the Constitution.

Ratification of the Constitution complicated the history of the Articles of Confederation, especially for the nation's first historians. Both Warren and Ramsay's histories feature chronological accounts of the Revolution. Their histories read as "this event happened and then this event happened and then this event happened" with splashes of commentary thrown in.

Both historians strove to use early American history as a way to unite the new nation. They recognized that Americans needed to form an identity apart from Great Britain and British traditions. They attempted to unify their fellow Americans by writing histories that the new nation could be proud of. Sure the United States failed throughout the course of the American Revolution, but Americans learned from their mistakes and overcame the odds to secure their independence. These histories have political and moral points and these points are supposed to be uplifting.

As Ramsay's brief attempt to incorporate the Articles of Confederation into his history demonstrates, the Articles don't fit neatly within the framework of these early nationalist histories. The story of the Articles highlights conflict and dissension. States and regions argued over whether the state or national government should have supreme sovereignty; how lands should be divided and governed; how citizens and states should be taxed. It took three years, lots of compromise, and the threat of a British invasion of Maryland for the states to unanimously ratify the Articles and put the constitution into effect.

In 1805, the story of the Articles was ill-timed. It contained too much discord to recount at a time when Americans were still trying to unite behind the Constitution of 1787. No one yet knew if the Constitution of 1787 would persist and whether the United States would survive as an independent country. This uncertainty would have made it difficult for these nationalist historians to grapple with the history of the Articles of Confederation.

Regardless of why Ramsay and Warren largely omitted the Articles of Confederation from their histories, the fact that they largely left the constitution out of their histories leaves me to wonder if it's their omission that has caused it to be absent from so many subsequent histories of the American Revolution and early United States.



[1] Warren, Mercy Otis. The History of the Rise, Progress, and Termination of the American Revolution. Edited by Lester H. Cohen. 2 vols. Indianapolis: Liberty Classics, 1988; Ramsay, David. The History of the American Revolution in Two Volumes. Edited by Lester H. Cohen. 2 vols. Indianapolis: Liberty Classics, 1990.

[2] If you're curious, Warren had this to say about the Articles of Confederation in her one paragraph: "A solemn confederation, consisting of a number of articles by which the United States should in future be governed, had been drafted, discussed, and unanimously signed by all the delegates in congress, in the month of October, one thousand seven hundred and seventy-six. This instrument was sent to each legislature in the thirteen states, and approved and afterwards ratified by the individual governments. After this, the congress of the United States thought proper to appoint commissioners to the court of France, when fortunately a loan of money was negociated [sic] on the faith of the United States, and permission obtained for the reception of American ships of war, and the sale of prizes that might be captured by them, and carried into any of the ports of France." pg 198. Note that Warren gave the wrong date. Congress signed the Articles of Confederation and sent them out to the state legislatures in November 1777, not October 1776.

Historian, Podcaster, Business Owner?

Wonka MemeSince January 2016, I have been traveling across the United States speaking about history, podcasting, and digital media at conferences, events, and interviews. The experience has revealed that people have 3 key questions for me:

1. What is the role of podcasts and other digital media in the future of historical scholarship?

2. What has the impact of Ben Franklin's World been on furthering historians' ideas about history?

3. How are you making a living/what are you doing with your career?

I answered the first two questions in a previous post, "Digital Media and the Future of the Historical Profession." In this post, I'll answer the third question(s): "How are you making a living/What are you doing with your career?"


Digital vs. Traditional Scholarship

I’m not making a living podcasting.

I'm still living on the "18th-century patron support plan" provided by my partner, Tim.

I am making some money podcasting. The Omohundro Institute pays me to produce the “Doing History” series (we share series editorial and production decisions) and I make about $140/month from crowdfunding pledges. These funds have and do pay for most of my monthly podcast expenses. They do not pay me for my time.

I’m in the process of figuring out how I will make money from podcasting to support my scholarship and work. The delay in figuring this out has been the fact that I’ve needed to undergo a HUGE mental shift in how I view myself as a historian.

Ben Franklin’s World started as an experimental side project. At most, I thought it would be a fun outlet for my public history and scholarly communications interests. I never intended for podcasting to turn into my full-time scholarship.

I’ve always thought of myself as a book and article historian. Books and articles have always been how most historians prove themselves and showcase their ideas and research. As such, making the mental shift to seeing myself as a digital media historian has been a long and hard one. I'm not even sure I've made the full mental shift yet. My decisions about how to spend my work time are still fraught with tension between digital and traditional media. (Old habits and thoughts really do die hard.)

Although I still feel a desire to produce scholarship in text-based, traditional media, I have decided to continue making digital media my primary scholarly output. I've experienced a lot of success with it and I tell myself that working as a digital media historian doesn't mean I can't write books and articles too. Books and articles will just have to become my side projects.

Now that I've made that decision, I need to find a way to support my scholarship.


Going Corporate & Starting a Network

In my dream scenario, a forward-thinking college or university would hire me in an editorial faculty role. I would continue to produce Ben Franklin's World and other podcasts I have in the works, while teaching undergraduate and graduate students how to do all aspects of this new, historical work along the way.

With that said, I’m a pragmatist. I've spoken with department heads and colleagues and I see that most of the historical profession is still 5-10 years away from recognizing what people in quicker-to-change professions see: that digital media is here to stay, that we shouldn’t be afraid of it, and that it’s highly effective at conveying and creating awareness about ideas, products, and services. Therefore, I’ve decided to create my dream job the old fashioned way: I've started a business.

I’m going to experiment with my new company and see if I can build it to the point where it pays for my scholarship and time and hopefully the scholarship and time of others.

The company is called Discover History Media Group, LLC. My first act as a business owner was to hire a media agent to seek sponsors for Ben Franklin’s World. The agent has several potential deals in the works, nothing has been finalized. I'm being mindful of the types of advertisers I want to sponsor my scholarship and I hope that by mid-to-late fall we will have found a good fit for the podcast.

Discover History Media Group LLC is also the legal entity under which I am starting the Explore History Network—a digital media network of reliable, high-quality history content created by historians. The Explore History Network will launch its second podcast by the end of this year and its third podcast by the end of 2017. The network will start with podcasts and will add blogs, video, and other digital media as it matures.

Over time, the network will (hopefully) fund itself from different revenue streams: sponsorships, member dues, custom content creation for groups and organizations, consulting fees, supporter pledges, and show merchandise.

Admittedly, I'm reluctant business owner. I know my strengths. Creating, researching, writing, launching, producing, and communicating historical content are strengths. Managing a business and creating a long-term, implementable plan for its success...I need to develop this skill set or partner with someone who has it.


Parting Thoughts

On a different note, all of the speaking I’ve done this year has combined with the success of Ben Franklin's World to bring forth a new revenue stream: paid speaking. I have three paid speaking engagements this fall with academic organizations and institutions and one that’s almost confirmed for next spring.

So no, I'm not making a living from podcasting, but I have a plan that will hopefully change that. I'm in the process of getting organized and I'm looking forward to seeing if the new scholarship I produce will be as successful and as well received as Ben Franklin's World.


Digital Media and the Future of the Historical Profession

Digital MediaIt’s August and I’ve somehow found myself with 7, straight weeks at home. It’s the first time I’ve been home for a full month this year. (Hence why this blog has been a bit of a ghost town.) Since January, I’ve been on a type of “history podcast tour.” Historians & history lovers have become fascinated with Ben Franklin’s World and its success, and they want to know more about the show, how I produce it, and the role podcasts and other digital media will play in the future of historical scholarship. As such, I’ve spoken at a lot of conferences and sat for interviews for podcasts, blogs, and radio.

I’ve participated in a lot of conversations about podcasting, historical scholarship, and the historical profession over the last 7 months. It’s been a lot of fun and these experiences have revealed several key questions people have about these topics:

1. What is the role of podcasts and other digital media in the future of historical scholarship?

2. What has the impact of Ben Franklin’s World been on furthering historians’ ideas about history?

3. How are you making a living podcasting/what are you doing with your career?

I’ve heard these questions enough that a couple of blog posts with answers seem like a good idea. In this post, I’ll answer the first two questions. In a second post, I’ll answer “how are you making a living/what are you doing with your career?”


What is the role of podcasts and other digital media in the future of historical scholarship?

When most historians ask this question, what they really want to know is: do podcasts and digital media compete with traditional books and articles?

My answer: No.

Digital media such as podcasts, blog posts, and digital videos complement traditional history books and articles. They also complement museum exhibits and historic sites.

The 21st-century is a mobile age. We live on our smartphones and time has become our most valuable resource because our ability to connect to the internet and with people anytime, anywhere has drastically multiplied the demands on our time. This doesn’t mean that people dislike reading books or visiting museums. It means they have less time (or feel like they have less time) to devote to those activities. As a result, they want to know that they are going to enjoy something and benefit from an experience before they invest time and money into having an experience.

This is where digital media complements traditional books, articles, and exhibits. High-quality, well-researched, and well-produced scholarship is still very important and the need for it is not diminishing. However, this scholarship suffers from a discoverability problem.

For example, Barnes & Noble doesn’t stock books from most academic publishers. They sell end cap and prime sales space to big, for-profit publishers with deep pockets. What books are those big publishers putting into those visible spaces? Usually those by “Fox News Historians” and journalists with large platforms. This means that many high-quality, fascinating history books by top-notch scholars go unstocked by bookstores and unnoticed by people who would be very interested in them, if they knew they existed.

Digital media such as blog posts, podcasts, and video create awareness. They allow potential readers to know that there are great history books and articles available and where they can find them. Digital media also provides easy and convenient ways for potential readers to get a feel for the author, the history they are conveying, and the quality and depth of the historian's research before they invest time and energy into finding a particular book, or article, and reading it.

I’ve found podcasts to be the best digital media for creating broad awareness because it’s presently the perfect digital media for our mobile age. You can listen to podcasts whenever and wherever you want to, which makes them appealing and fun fillers of commuting/exercise/dog walking/cooking/cleaning/waiting time. Plus the intimacy of the medium allows listeners to feel like they have a bond with their favorite hosts and guests.

This is why listeners repeatedly tell me that I’m costing them a fortune. They buy the history books and visit the historic sites they hear about on Ben Franklin's World because they get a great preview of what they will see, learn, and of the personalities and processes of the historians who authored the books or exhibits.

My prediction for the future: Colleges and universities will create and add digital media programs to both undergraduate and graduate curriculums in academic and public history specialties. Departments will find this profitable in the sense that faculty and student-produced media will create awareness about their programs and the work of their faculty and students and in the sense that these programs will teach students tangible, technical communications skills that companies (and corporatized colleges and universities) desire.


What has the impact of Ben Franklin’s World been on furthering historians’ ideas about history?

Statistical Measurement: Downloads have risen from 288 in October 2014 to an average of almost 69,000 per month in 2016. In a survey I conducted in late 2015, 41 percent of the Ben Franklin's World audience reported that they had purchased a book or visited a historic site as a result of the show.

Objective Measurement: I receive e-mails, tweets, and Facebook messages from listeners on a daily basis that contain questions about history, topics for future shows, and that both thank me for introducing them to a book or exhibit of great interest to them and curse me because they now spend too much money on history books. Similarly, listeners reach out to show guests too. Listeners ask guests further questions about their work and attend guest talks.


Parting Thoughts

Historians should embrace rather than fear digital media. Digital media is, and will, play a big role in keeping traditional historical scholarship alive and well and in reversing the downward trend in major and course enrollment numbers. Plus, digital media offers historians new ways to practice historical scholarship. More options breed creativity and innovation, which every profession needs if it wants to stay healthy and relevant.


Plan for a Historian Digital Media Network

Historian Digital Media NetworkOn March 3, 2016, I explored the idea of whether it makes sense to create a podcast network for historians. Eight weeks later, I am convinced that historians need a network. But we need more than a podcast network. We need a digital media network. Presently, digital media consists of blogs and online magazines, podcasts, and on-demand video. In the near future, virtual and augmented reality devices will enhance each of these media types with immersive experiences.

A digital media network offers historians the ability to cultivate and convey their work to wide and receptive public audiences. Digital media compliments books and articles by providing additional ways to disseminate ideas. A digital media network also provides historians with flexibility. Flexibility to present history in different media and flexibility to work in and develop new forms of media as they enter our digital world.

In this post, you will discover my plan to start a historian digital media network.


Overall Vision

If granted convenient access to the work of professional historians, the public will take an interest in history and historians’ work and become advocates for it. Convenient access to professional historical work will not only increase the ability of society to think historically, but having more advocates for history will help ensure that we have the funding we need for our research and the majors we need to keep our departments alive and fresh with talent.

The historian digital media network has a two-part mission: 1. To create wide public awareness about history and the work of professional historians by providing convenient access to history and historical research through digital media. 2. To educate historians how to use digital media to communicate history to people within and outside of the historical profession.

Plan of Execution

Given the rather large scope of this idea, I have been exploring models for how to execute it. The most promising models come from the technology sector.

Alphabet Inc.: This company made up of many companies started with just one company: Google, the wealthiest company in the world. Larry Page and Sergey Brin had big, long-term plans for what they wanted their business to do, but rather than execute all of their ideas at once, they started with one idea: how to improve people’s ability to search the internet.

Amazon: Today, Amazon stands as one of the largest logistics and technology companies in the world. But, before the company provided computing power on its AWS servers, warehouse and drop-shipping services, merchandise of all types, and digital media, Amazon.com provided one service: the ability to locate and purchase hard-to-find book titles.

Apple: Apple manufacturers high-quality computers and media devices and provides media delivery services. The second wealthiest company in the world started with three dudes in a garage who wanted to bring computers to the people. Their idea: shrink room-sized machines into personal, desktop kits.

All three of these companies are huge in size, scope, and profits. They achieved their success by starting off with one, small idea and executing that small idea well.

Similarly, I intend to start a historian digital media network with one, small idea and executing it well: podcasts.


Why Podcasts?

Podcast-MicPodcasts are hot right now.

Since my last post, Edison Research released its “Infinite Dial 2016” report. The study revealed a large increase in the number of podcast listeners and an increase in the number of podcasts people listen to. Additionally, The New York Times announced that it is creating an audio division, Audible.com (an Amazon company) released the beta for its new short-form audio service, and Google Play Music finally launched its podcast directory and service. I also intend to start the network with podcasts because, at the moment, it is the media I most enjoy learning more about, working with, and the one I am finding the most success with.

Starting a digital media network with just podcasts is also a large undertaking. Ideally, the historian digital media network will convey history from all periods and subfields. However, launching a network with one podcast from every period and subfield won’t work. We won’t be able to build the audience we need to sustain a network with such a diversified strategy at the start. Therefore, we must begin with an even smaller piece and work our way toward the end goal.


Where to Start?

Listeners patronize networks because they offer consistent content in terms of quality, topic, and release schedule. Listeners are more likely to tune in to new shows if they already know and like the hosts and content of the podcasts they listen to. Therefore, I imagine building the network up and out much like we convey narrative in survey courses.

The network needs to start with one historical period and subfield. It will start by offering content about early American history. Ben Franklin’s World will serve as the network’s first podcast. It will be the base from which we launch other programs. New programs will tie into and build off of the geography and period of early American history because this consistent and related content approach will encourage listeners to sample new network programs.


How to Add New Shows?

Building out the network comes down to two factors: Money and historians.

I cannot build this network alone. I have many ideas for shows and how historians can utilize digital media of all types to convey their ideas, but presently, I need to keep my focus on Ben Franklin’s World. Its quality cannot drop. It is the cornerstone of the network and we must not take its audience for granted. Ben Franklin’s World will not only help us build the audience for the historian digital media network, it will help us fund it.

Ben Franklin's World has grown to a point where I could seek the corporate sponsorship of companies like MailChimp and Squarespace. (I have a different strategy for how to monetize the podcast, but that must wait for another post.) Once I monetize Ben Franklin's World, we will have funds to invest into new shows, which will need webpages, hosting, artwork, audio engineers, software, and recording equipment.

Aside from money, the network needs people. Not only should the network provide a space where the public can hear many different historian voices, but the network needs the labor of many historians to exist. Podcasting is fun, but it is a labor-intensive media. Therefore, I need to find enthusiastic people who share in the vision of a historian media network and find ways to realize the second goal of the network: to educate historians how to use digital media to communicate history to people within and outside of the historical profession.

Ben Franklin’s World could be used as an educational tool. I am confident I could bring in historians and graduate students to work on the backend of the show to gain experience in digital media (podcasting requires knowledge of blogging and video too). As colleagues gain experience with Ben Franklin's World, we could work on ideas for shows they would like to produce and work on launching them.

However, this is easier said than done. I haven’t yet figured out how to effectively bring in people to work on Ben Franklin's World in a virtual setting. I can demonstrate many of the technical aspects of podcasting via a shared-screen video conference, but providing hands-on experience and in-person discussion would be difficult and this type of work is best performed with hands-on practice.

Hands-on practice with the technology and with communication is key as the network must offer high-quality content to realize maximum success. Anyone can podcast, but not everyone can produce a high-quality podcast. Hands-on experience is critical to learning the art of the latter.


First Steps

Clearly, I still have a lot of details to work out and thinking to do. But, I am going to start building the network as I work out those details. I will finalize and implement my monetization strategy for Ben Franklin’s World. I will build the network's website, the gateway to all network content. And, I will survey my audience to see what periods and areas of history they would like to discover more about.

Rome was not built in a day and this network won’t be built in a day either. It’s going to take years. But, I am confident we will sort out the details as we go and hopefully within a few years the network will start to resemble a broad, inclusive platform for the profession. A platform that will help us spread ideas, promote historical thinking, and create advocates who will help support and advance our work.


Network Name

The network needs a name. What do you think it should be?

I am sitting on a couple of domain names, but I would love to know what you think.


5 Tips for How to Start a Writing Group Plus The Origins of #BookSquad

typewriterDo you have a community of writers you can rely on to push you to meet deadlines and write the best books and articles possible? In this post, you will discover how to start a writing group and the origins of my writing group, #BookSquad.


Origins of #BookSquad

One of my big goals for 2015 was to finish my book: America’s First Gateway: Albany and the Making of America.

I have lofty, but achievable (I think) goals for my book. I want America’s First Gateway to be a well-researched, well-written, and accessible book. It should speak to both my colleagues and non-historians.

#BookSquad came about because I need help accomplishing these goals. I need to be around writers who can lend perspective to my project and who will set and hold me accountable for deadlines.


Starting a Writing Group: How #BookSquad Came Together

I expressed my desire to start a writing group to Megan Kate Nelson, a friend and fellow historian. I told her how I wanted the group to be an in-person workshop with a focus on writing well-researched, accessible history books. Megan loved the idea and suggested that we invite Kevin Levin to join us. He accepted our invitation.

Not long after I spoke with Megan and Kevin, I had lunch with Heather Cox Richardson. We met to discuss digital public history; Heather is a co-founder of the fantastic digital history magazine We’re History. During our conversation, I mentioned how I was starting a writing group with Megan and Kevin. Heather asked if she could join us and suggested that we invite Seth Jacobs, her colleague at Boston College, too.

EditWithin a week or two, I had found four historians who shared my writing goals and who wanted to participate in a group where we could help each other achieve them. As I reflected upon my good fortune, I realized that our group consisted of one historian of early America (me), three historians of the Civil War Era (Megan, Kevin, and Heather), and one historian specializing in twentieth-century United States diplomatic history (Seth). This felt unbalanced so I invited Sara Georgini to join us.

Sara works as an Assistant Editor at the Adams Papers Documentary Editing Project. Although she trained as an historian of 19th-century American religion, her work with the Adams Papers has provided her with a great command of the historiographies for both early America and early 20th-century United States history. She also interacts with members of the public on a regular basis.

Our first meeting took place at Heather’s house in June 2015. We met over dinner and used the meeting as a chance to get to know each other. We also established the format for our group: monthly meetings; dinner, drink, and socializing first; writing workshop during dessert. This format works well for us. We socialize for the first 60-90 minutes of our meeting and then spend the next 60-90 minutes having a frank conversation about one member’s workshop submission.

After our first meeting, we gained two more members and our name, #BookSquad. Nina Silber (historian of the Civil War Era) asked to join us after seeing Megan post about our first meeting on Facebook. Tom Thurston (historian of 20th-century United States History) asked to join after seeing Heather post about a subsequent meeting. Sara dubbed us #BookSquad in her Facebook post, which we adopted and, for whatever reason, always write as a hashtag.


5 Tips for How to Form a Writing Group

1. Define your goals: What do you want to accomplish with your writing and what do you want to get out of working with a writing group?

You need answers to these questions so you can find likeminded writers and get the most out of your writing group.


2. Find likeminded people: The best writing groups consist of writers who work on similar genres and who share similar goals.

The needs of a poet differ from those of an historian. In my experience (#BookSquad is my fourth writing group), it helps when you work with people who work on similar genres. This doesn’t mean that everyone in your group needs to be an historian, but you may find it helpful if everyone in your group has a serious, non-fiction project so you can assist each other with research and methodology questions.

In terms of where to find potential members, start with your personal network. Once you figure out what type of writing group you want to form or join, ask your friends and colleagues whether they have or would like to join a group like you described.


3. Meet regularly: Find a schedule that works for you.

Whether you form a virtual writing group or an in-person writing group, be sure you meet regularly. Regular meetings will help you stay motivated and accountable when it comes to achieving your writing goals.


Books4. Find balance between project similarity and diversity: Work with people you wouldn’t normally work with.

As an early American historian, I don’t often engage with the historiography of the Civil War or twentieth century. In fact, I haven’t really engaged with these historiographies since I passed my comps in 2007.

Being in a group with so many mid-to-late 19th-century specialists can be both daunting and interesting. When one of the 19th-century historians workshops a chapter, the majority of the group starts in on whether the chapter addressed the important and recent works in their field. They also nitpick facts. This is fun to watch and I learn a lot, but Seth, Tom, and I cannot help our friends on the same level.

Instead, we tell them where we didn’t understand something because we are not so well versed in the historiography or where there is a similar example in early American or twentieth-century U.S. history that they might find helpful. These outside perspectives prove useful when workshopping the chronology and structure of a chapter.


5. Create a safe workshop environment: Writing is a personal activity; you present your thoughts and ideas for the world to consider. Be sure you join or start a writing group that creates a safe, honest, and respectful place for workshopping members' writing.

#BookSquad has created a safe and homey workshop space: We meet around the dinner table.

The person who submitted their work hosts the meeting at their house and cooks the main course. Every member brings an appetizer, side dish, and/or bottle of wine to add to the meal. We share food, personal stories, and conversation around the table. When we are done eating, we clear the table and sit down to work.

Our workshop is friendly, but intense. We have a respectful, but honest conversation about the submitted chapter. We discuss historiography, structure, and writing style. The nature of writing makes the workshop personal, but the social hour beforehand helps us remember that we are all friends offering advice that will make the offered chapter better.



Writing groups will help you improve your writing and help you increase your productivity. However, a good writing can be hard to find. Sometimes finding the right group involves trying out several different groups before you find the right one. You may also need patience while you seek out members for your ideal group.

Unfortunately, I will not meet my goal of finishing America's First Gateway in 2015. However, with the motivation and accountability provided by #BookSquad, I am confident I will make significant progress between now and the end of 2016.


Share Your Story

Do you belong to a writing group? How did you find it? What genres do its members write?