A common way to find a group of writers who are local to you and compatible with the way you work... is to start a writing group. And one way to do that is with Meetup.com, a social networking site built around the idea of local, face-to-face groups. It's not free -- "plans start at $12.00 a month" -- but it can be effective.
One of the newest writing-related Meetup.com groups announced in our area is the Denver Fearless Writers Group. Organizer Anthony Sulwer started it on February 26. His original intent was "to form a very small group of 5-6 talented writers to meet every two weeks," whose membership was all on the same working level. The group was to be kept small so as to make regular manuscript critiques workable.
The name of the group comes from Sulwer's creative ideal that "the most important aspect to writing is we must be fearless. Nothing is off the table, and no one will be judged on their subject matter or ideas."
Bit of an editorial note from your Examiner here: He goes on to suggest that "If you have reservations about any subject or topic, or are easily offended by foul language, this probably isn't a group for you. This will be a laid back, comfortable setting where all opinions will be welcome as long as everyone is respectful of each other." The first sentence there rings strong alarm bells for me. The second sentence is reassuring, but it's just not sufficient to ease my wariness. Personal experience tells me that "I hope you're not easily offended," like "I'm not going to go out of my way to be politically correct," is often code for "You'll be exposed to racist, sexist, homophobic jokes and attitudes, both blatant and subtle, which you'll be expected to accept, condone, appreciate, and participate in, in order to prove you have a sense of humor."
It doesn't even have to be intended that way to come out meaning it in practice. One man's unthinkingly privileged "Gee, some people sure look for reasons to get offended!" can very easily be another woman's "I am so very sick of getting slapped in the face with rape culture and casual misogyny--can't my writing group at least be a safe space?" And it doesn't even have to be about the usual "isms" that plague our culture: Someone who Sulwer might think of as being unable to "accept criticism on your work without pouting" might be someone who's recovering from a lifetime of emotional abuse masquerading as "constructive feedback" and needs a little extra overt compassion in their critique session to help them heal.
I think in order to avoid giving the impression of keeping that company, Sulwer's caveat could have been more felicitously worded. Something like, "Writers must fearlessly tackle the difficult subjects, write challenging characters, and be unafraid to create true conflict in their stories" or "You will not be made to feel ashamed for your writing so long as you treat fellow writers with respect," would get across what I hope Sulwer means without pushing the "I refuse to be politically correct!" buttons.
That was a slightly longer digression than intended.
Anyway, the Denver Fearless Writers Group announcement has received a significantly greater response than the originator expected. At the time of this writing, the membership count stands at 22. Says Sulwer,
I was only expecting a few requests to join this group. In 3 days, I've had more than 20 requests to join. So... since I don't want to exclude anyone, and I sure do like helping others, this is what I think we will do: At the first meeting, we'll all get together and briefly describe our current projects, and the genres and audience we're aiming at. Then, we will divide up into smaller groups based on those criteria. I foresee us having 3-4 small groups we can all work in. I will facilitate all the groups and help everyone remain in contact and set and post meeting times. The whole group will get together once every 3 months or so just to touch base, share experiences, and reevaluate everyone's needs.
This means not only that you're not too late to apply, but also that you may find a group more suitable to you as an individual than if you were one of only 5 or 6 applicants. If a large group of 25 breaks up into a handful of smaller groups, those smaller groups may form by matching up not just location preferences and schedule compatibility but also considerations like genre, personality type and communication mode. Which could in turn help avoid the sorts of conflicts I digressed so lengthily about.
The first meeting of this new group, "to make sure we're all compatible," will be Thursday, March 14 at 7:00 PM at the Anythink Huron Street Library in Thornton. Sulwer has reserved a conference room from 7-8 PM. He invites you to send him a message if you're interested in the group but can't attend this first meeting. He intends to schedule the next one on a Saturday.
Meanwhile, there is a wealth of writing groups to be found at Meetup.com, many of them closer to home than Denver. Here's a quick (and non-exhaustive) list to get you started: