The IMPs, known originally the Compuserve IMPs began in 1993, growing out of the immensely popular SF Literature forum writing workshop run by Roger MacBride Allen. Participation was limited and the waiting list grew months long to take part. This wait birthed the IMPs when Bill Cornett requested the moderators allow people on the writing workshop waiting list to trade critiques among themselves without the professional guidance. And so the “IMPatient Writers’ Workshop Waiting List Applicants” came into being as Bill, Ron Collins, and Lyn Nichols started critiquing each others’ work.
Over time, there were more people participating in the IMPs than the writing workshop that spawned it, and the group was given its own discussion forum and file archive and around that time the lengthy name was revised to “Informal Association of Writers IMPatiently Waiting To Be Published” which stuck through the Compuserve tenure.
While chat and forum discussions about writing were a constant, the primary activity was the manuscript critique using the unique principle of submitting at least three critiques before submitting a story of your own for critique. The group also ran creativity contests like “best openings” and various writing challenges.
Science fiction author Mike Resnick volunteered as the group mentor, answering questions for them, participating in live chats, and eventually mining talent from the group and putting a number of them into print in his anthologies or via collaborations.
More than a dozen IMPs went on to professionally publish novels, short stories, and non-fiction. Wikipedia lists the published IMPs as: “Ron Collins, Ann Marston, Dave Bollinger, Jason Tanner, Martin Crumpton, Jeff Carter, Charlene Brusso, Jennifer Cush, Louise Rowder, Ann-Marie Horcher, James Hartley (Jay Caselberg), Christopher Holiday, Steve Schiff, Randy Dannenfelser, Lisa Silverthorne, Lyn Nichols, Adrienne Chafee, Adrienne Gormley, Michael Kelly, Josh Langston, Bill Cornett, Mitch Stein, Derek Paterson, Bill Allan, Barb Galler-Smith, Bruce Talbott, Lisa Mantchev and Michael Martinez.”
With the rise of the internet, and Compuserve switching from an all-encompassing online service to a Web site many of the first generation IMPs moved on. A few remained, guiding a new generation of IMPs through learning the craft of writing speculative fiction as late as 2006 or so but activity there appears to have trickled to a stop as of 2011.
In 2011, IMPs from all eras have gathered anew through Facebook and the IMPire Web site. Now, mostly published and separated from Compusere and the workshop that spawned the group, the IMPs are less of an open critique group, and more of a collection of writers bonded by sharing that experience.