If you have an idea for the next great American novel, pick up a notepad or laptop and join the new Newton Writers Guild.

 

The Newton Writers Guild, formed by Maia Cuellar and Georgia Berning, is a group that will meet monthly to provide encouragement and constructive critiques for writing in various styles.

 

"This is brand new to all of us," Cuellar said. "We're just pretty passionate about writing."

 

Cuellar writes poems, editorials and blog posts, which she said provides a therapeutic outlet for her feelings about her struggles in life.

 

"A lot of what I write about and blog about is self-acceptance," Cuellar said. "It's basically just for myself right now, but I'm interested in getting further out there and I think the only way you can really improve is by having a lot of eyes on your work."

 

While writing solely for yourself has value, Cuellar is encouraging herself and others to both share their words and read the work of others through the Newton Writers Guild.

 

"We thought about forming something in town where writers can get feedback, give feedback, and have a back-and-forth thing," Cuellar said.

 

The goal of the group is to form a close-knit community of people who have a passion for writing, giving them the motivation to put their ideas on the physical or digital page.

 

"That's the biggest thing with writers — you need a deadline or else it could sit for years. You'll never get to it," Cuellar said.

 

Members of the Newton Writers Guild are given a deadline for submitting the piece they want reviewed at the beginning of each month.

 

"Throughout the month, members will take time to peer review, edit and make a list of comments and edits that they want to give," Cuellar said.

 

During the group's meetings, comments about each author's work will be discussed.

 

"The writer just has to sit and take it and not really defend their piece, but just listen to the comments and take it all in," Cuellar said. "It's about how the reader perceives it without ever knowing your input on it."

 

The Newton Writers Guild is open to all ages and skill levels, but Cuellar noted focus and maturity are expected from each member.

 

Writers can abstain from reading pieces that talk about subjects that are sensitive such as suicide, depression, eating disorders or physical abuse.

 

"It's a bit of a commitment, so you have to be somewhat serious, even if you're not trying to make a career out of it," Cuellar said.

 

Members can write in whatever format suits them, be it a journal, short story, novel or poem.

"I encourage anyone to join because I think it's important to feel like what you're writing is important and matters," Cuellar said.

 

She recognizes putting your words out for others to see takes openness and vulnerability.

 

"I think anyone that wants to come and do that, I have a lot of respect for that. It doesn't matter to us what kind of format it's in," Cuellar said. "I hope a lot of people give themselves some credit and try it out."

 

The Newton Writers Guild's inaugural meeting will be at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 26 at Mojo's Coffee Bar on the campus of Bethel College in North Newton. For more information, email MaiaCuellar52@gmail.com or Georgia.Shelby94@gmail.com.