I’ve mentioned this before and I’m sure I’ll continue to mention it all the time: I’ve written more this year than I have in any other year of my life. It’s incredible and empowering to have spent 2017 learning what I’m really capable of as an author and writer. To put it in list form, I’ve written:
- Two ebooks
- Five novellas
- Nine and a half short stories
- Six creative essays
- Sixty blog posts
- Forty-three newsletters
Not to mention the additional writing I’ve done on projects that are coming soon, like my new resource for writers, Writer’s Caffeine (hopefully coming out Summer of 2018!), two short story series that are in progress and will be self-published in 2018 and 2019, and the writing I do for my job in marketing.
It’s a ton of writing. A lot of brainstorming, outlining, writing, hemming, hawing, editing, meditating, planning, thinking, dreaming. When it’s written out in list form, I’m a bit amazed that I did that work and not my evil twin.
BUT (and this is a BIG BUT), I never could have accomplished this much without one very important factor: my writing friends.
I wouldn’t have been half as productive, half as creative, or improved half as much without them. Whenever I need to chat about a character’s motivations, whenever I need ideas to get my characters out of gunpoint, whenever I need to vent a bit about how my outline is just not working for me right now, my writing friends are there.
They are the secret to my success and to everything I’ve accomplished.
Which is why this blog post is going to talk about the importance of finding and building a writing community.
We don’t have to write in a vacuum. In fact, it’s better if we don’t. Two minds are better than one, and sounding boards, cheerleaders, and editors will do as much for your writing as writing every day will.
How Do I Find A Writing Community?
There are several ways you can find a community of writers to encourage you and inspire you; it just takes ten seconds of courage on your part.
Firstly, think of your own friends. Do you know anyone who writes, who enjoys writing, who may be working on a novel? Reach out to them! See if they have someone to swap stories with. See if they would like to maybe meet up with you once a week or email work back and forth. You might be surprised by who you already know.
Secondly, never underestimate the power of the internet. You can find thriving writing communities on many social platforms including Twitter, tumblr, Reddit, and Facebook. Whether you search for writing groups, fandoms, or advice, you’ll find rich resources and plenty of friends also looking for people to share their work with and get advice and encouragement. Just remember, be safe on the internet and do what you need to keep yourself safe.
Thirdly, look within your own community. Your local community college or university might host writing groups, you might find groups at your local library, or you can even start one at your favorite coffee shop!
How Does a Writing Community Help Me Grow?
There are several ways you can utilize your new writing friends but I’ll elaborate on my favorites below.
They catch your “problem areas”.
Every writer has these: whether you use commas too often, forget to describe where your character’s hands are going, or leave your readers with too much information, your writing friends will catch your idiosyncrasies and help you strengthen your writing by making you more flexible, broadening your vocabulary, expanding your commonly used sentence structures, and catching phrases you use too often. Your writing will become more varied and you’ll strengthen all sorts of muscles.
They bounce ideas around with you.
Sometimes you really need a second mind to help you figure out how to get two characters together, how to get them from point A to point B, or how to deal with your MC’s angsty emotions. Your writing friends will help you better understand your characters, better understand their world, and ask questions that you might not have thought of yourself.
They cheer you on.
Whether you’re facing intense writer’s block or just don’t know where to go next, your writing friends can offer encouragement and words of wisdom to get you going again.
They write with you.
Nothing quite matches the thrill of sitting down with some friends, giving yourselves a time limit, and writing to your heart’s content. I’ve gotten some of my best scenes out of these writing parties. Once you’re done, share your word count and a snippet of what you wrote. Your friends can give you feedback and encouragement, no matter how much you’ve written.
They learn from you.
Your writing community will help you in immeasurable ways, but you’ll also get to return the favor. By helping your writing friends improve their work and think of their stories in new ways, you’re improving your own powers of inspiration and your understanding of grammar and story structure. Both things that make you a better writer!
They fail with you.
No writer is perfect. You aren’t perfect. Your writing friends aren’t perfect. Someone might have a hard time with dialogue. You might have difficulties writing vivid descriptions. Another friend might battle lack of motivation to get writing. We all will fail and we all will struggle. But that’s the beauty of writing communities: you’ll fail together, and succeed together, and in the end, you’ll become better writers and better people.
Make finding a writing community a priority and the perfect group of people will find their way to you. You’ll never stop thanking your lucky stars for them.