Important Things For Writers To Find (And Why Finding Them Can Be Harder Than It Sounds!)
If you’re anything like me, and I know a lot of writers are, it can be a challenge to find engaging writing communities. I think the biggest reason for this is because many of us are introverts. We may be introverts who enjoy spending time with people or introverts who prefer to spend every possible moment alone; but if you’re an introvert, too, I bet one thing we have in common is that we’re selective about who gets the best of our energy. When a lot of our best energy is going into our writing, it can be a challenge to make connections with other people—even if they’re other writers.
Before I get into my list of things I think are important for writers to find, I want to point out that I’m going to be talking about “pros” and “cons.” I put those terms in quotes because I use them pretty loosely. The “pros” will be the reasons I think these things are important to find; the “cons,” the reasons it can be tricky to find them. Okay, let’s get into it!
Online forums for asking questions, finding support, complaining about plot holes, etc.
Now, I think most of us are familiar with online writerly communities. Heck, if you got to this article through Scribbler, you might already be part of theirs (if you’re not, come join us! We don’t bite!). So, why are online communities important, and why can they be hard to find?
Writing communities can be so welcoming and positive. I know the Scribblers Facebook page has been for me (seriously, join us!). Plus, you gain access to great writing resources, like the Scribbler blog, and there’s usually someone lurking around who can answer your writing questions.
First and foremost, if you’re an introvert, it can be hard to reach out to strangers. Secondly, complementing and complicating the first point, it can be particularly hard to reach out to strangers when you’ve been part of toxic writing communities in the past. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been on #writingTwitter and have seen writers being unsupportive of each other and giving “one-size-fits-all” writing advice that does not, in fact, fit us all.
Online writing courses
After completing Mary Adkins’ 10K Word Challenge in October, I took the leap to join her year-long program, The Book Incubator. Now, there are lots of other online writing programs, but this is my first experience with one, so I’ll be basing my thoughts on Mary’s program (which really is very good!). Your mileage may vary.
Knowledgeable teachers and mentors, archives of past lessons, and one-on-one support from instructors and other Incubators. The thing I was missing the most before joining the Incubator was having a mentor, and I had no idea where to start looking. From the moment I joined I was connected one-on-one to two of the instructors, a mentor, and an accountability partner. They’ve all been wonderful so far, and I felt part of the community very quickly.
The first thing is pricing. Again, I can only speak as a freshly-minted Incubator; there may be other programs that cost less, but I think of them all as an investment for a reason. I’m grateful I was able to join and am confident in the program’s ability to get me much, much closer to my goal of being traditionally published. But it is a big step. The second thing to consider is, if what you’re seeking is in-person interactions, you might not find them in an online writing course.
Writing groups/Critique partners
Another step I took this year was to get involved in a local co-working space that’s mostly geared toward writers (but does events for other creatives, too!). If you’re in LA or the Denver area, check it out. It’s called The Process, and here in Denver they put on weekly co-writing sessions where you go, pick a spot to work, and write for ninety minutes. Then you get split into small groups with two to three other writers and talk about how the session went. It’s awesome!
If you can find a place like this in your area, it’s a great opportunity for in-person meet-ups. As a bonus, you might be able to connect one-on-one with like-minded writers! The times I’ve gone to The Process, I’ve appreciated their format of giving you a quiet place to write for three-fourths of the session. Everyone I’ve seen there has been respectful of each other’s space, and the small-group debriefings have been really fun.
If you don’t have access to a space like The Process but you’re still lucky enough to connect with other writers, it can be a challenge to find time to meet. We live in a busy world! Plus, as I mentioned before, lots of us are introverts, and being around other people can be hard.
I talk a lot about community in this piece for a reason. As an introverted writer, I crave community because writing is such a solitary activity. So it’s that much more valuable and worthwhile to make connections with other writers. Your writing will improve when you connect with people who are knowledgeable and passionate about writing, and some communities might also grant you access to resources geared toward helping you get published. Go forward in this new year with your eyes on the prize, writer! You got this!