Frequently Asked Questions

Get the point. 

How do I join Pencils?

Joining Pencils! is as easy as attending a meeting. If you like our style, stay for a few more! Please read further for information on yearly dues if you plan to attend more than three meetings per year.

When and where does Pencils! meet?

We meet at the ShopRite on Route 1 in Norwalk, Conn. on the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of every month EXCEPT December. Our meetings are held in a private conference room on the second floor; there are chairs, tables, plenty of space, private bathrooms, and a small kitchen -- it's perfect, giving us the convenience and openness of a public venue but with plenty of privacy and quiet in which to work, a great advantage over meeting at a bookstore. We meet at 7 p.m., and the meetings end promptly at 9 p.m., but we have the flexibility to go later if necessary.

Is there a membership fee?

You may attend your first two meetings for free to see if we're a good fit for you! If you decide to join, our membership dues -- which help with the event and administration costs -- are $24 a year.

How long has Pencils! existed?

Pencils! was founded in 2003 at the Barnes & Noble in Norwalk, Conn. and moved to the Borders in Wilton in 2006; we settled into the ShopRite space in early 2008. Pencils! is now the longest running non-poetry writing workshop in the state of Connecticut.

How many people are in Pencils?

We have a membership base of approximately 30 people. Most of our meetings range rom 6 to 10 people so there is always time for everyone to participate. What happens at a Pencils! meeting?

Members bring work that is approximately five pages double-spaced to share. They also bring several copies so that members can read along and make notes. The moderator asks who has work to share, a list is formed and each person presents. Following the reading, Pencils! members give constructive feedback. And some of our discussions get pretty interesting!

Do I need to be published?

No. Pencils! welcomes writers of all levels, however, we do ask for a degree of commitment to the craft. One of our great strengths is that we do have many published writers in our ranks, but everyone is an eager, committed writer.

Am I expected to present at every meeting?

No. In fact, writers who are there to simply listen and support other writers are as critical to the success of the group as those who present. Besides, the muse doesn’t always come when you call her!

Are there other Pencils!-sponsored events and seminars?

Yes, but it is not the same every year. In past years, we have held workshops on the submissions process and the query letter. We have also traveled to writing-related sites such as the Edgar Allan Poe house in the Bronx and the Mark Twain house in Hartford, and have gone en masse to writer’s conferences and writing weekends. We also have annual parties, such as the anniversary party in July and the Holiday gathering in December. In addition, one of our most popular events is the annual rejection slip burning. If you'd like a taste of how we party and inform ourselves, feel free to surf our Pencils! Scrapbook. We have a lot of fun no matter what we do!

May I exchange work with other members to give and receive feedback outside of group?

This is certainly allowed, but as writers, we’re all very busy. So, this is left up to each individual’s discretion.

So, is there no online component or chat room?

No. We are not an Internet-based group. Face-to-face contact is what makes Pencils! a unique experience. If you seek online critiques, consider joining or  We are,however, considering adding a members-only section to our new website which will allow for online exchange of work and pre-reading prior to coming to a live meeting.  Stay tuned!

May I bring a non-writing or out-of-town guest to a Pencils! meeting?

Absolutely! Everyone is welcome, and "guests" have been known to contribute quite a lot! Please note, however, that this is a group for adults. We prefer "guests" and members to be at least the age of 18 due to the fact that subject matter is not censored. (Please, out of courtesy to our writers, leave children at home.)

How do I get more information?

Contact Carol McManus, Moderator, at

2nd & 4th Tuesdays
7 p.m.
Community Room
Shop Rite
Contact Us