How Finding a Writing Community Can Support Your Goals
Writing is full of wonderful moments. The first spark of an idea that you cannot get out of your head. Finally getting the scene that you’ve spent months working on to a place where it reads just the way you imagined it to. Finishing the first draft of your work in progress.
But there are more challenging moments too, like dealing with writer’s block and navigating unintentional plot holes.
That’s where writing communities come in. Everything in life feels that little bit more manageable when you’ve got someone by your side through it all. Being in and amongst a group of other writers makes the good moments extra special, and the hard ones easier to navigate.
What is a writing community?
A writing community is whatever you want it to be, which is one of the best things about it. If you’re a writer, and you find at least one or two other writers to have writing conversations with (whether that’s on the phone, in person, via the internet etc.), then you have a writing community.
There are so many different types of writing communities, so you can really choose the one that works for you. You can be a part of an online community or forum, or join a writing club/group that regularly meets up in person. You can get coffee with two of your writer friends on the rare occasions that your schedules align, or join a writing course of twenty people that has Zoom calls on the first Wednesday of every month. The location, frequency, group size, and associated costs are all things you can adjust to suit your comfort level. The most important thing is that your writing community benefits you as much as possible.
Examples of writing communities
There are so many different writing communities that it can be hard to know where to start looking for one. Here are some examples that you can use as a jumping-off point.
Courses and Writing Clubs
Joining a course can be a great way to interact with other writers, plus it can help you establish your strengths and areas of improvement as a writer.
Some courses take you through how to write a novel- from an initial idea to a completed first draft- while others focus on specific areas such as character development or creating a strong voice. You can also choose between online courses and in-person ones. It’s also important to consider factors like how much the course costs and how long it’s running (both in terms of the length of each individual session and the duration of the overall course).
Writing clubs tend to have similar benefits, only they’re usually less structured and more informal. You can create a club yourself by recruiting some of your friends or track down any existing clubs in your area.
There are a huge number of writing forums on the internet. Some are more general, while others are genre (or even sub-genre) specific. There are even some targeted towards specific challenges, like NaNoWriMo. Search around and see if there are any that jump out to you. There are also lots of writing blogs and author blogs that generate a similar sense of community, or you could join a writing platform like Novlr with a dedicated Discord community.
Social Media groups
From Reddit subreddits to Facebook groups, on social media platforms, you can find groups of writers exploring specific topics, answering one another’s queries, and even gathering in person in local groups. Communities of this kind also vary considerably, but they’re often quite accessible, so you can browse a few and see if any pique your interest.
The value of writing communities
There are several benefits that come with being part of a writing community. Here are a few of them:
Learning and reciprocity
One of the gifts of joining a writing community is that you get to help others with their writing, while also receiving advice about your own. Having a supportive environment where you can be honest and encouraging with your feedback is hugely beneficial, as reading others’ work is also a great way to deepen your own knowledge and understanding of the writing craft.
For many writers, the people they interact with in various writing communities often become their beta readers, and they then read others’ writing in return. These relationships can last even after someone moves away, the course finishes, or the group doesn’t meet up as regularly anymore.
Being part of a group where you can bounce ideas off of one another and troubleshoot any issues can be greatly creatively stimulating and can make writing feel less lonely. Having people who you know are cheering you on and rooting for you can be the vital encouragement you need on those days when getting the words onto the page seems impossible.
It’s also nice to be around people who can relate to the process and understand all the specifics involved in writing. Writing communities are spaces where you can engage with like-minded people and ask each other for advice on querying agents, enthuse about your new idea, and discuss your favourite writing tools.
Writing communities can also help with accountability, as many groups participate in writing challenges together, aim to write a certain number of words per day/week/month, and check in with one another to see if they’re meeting their goals. A similar thing is done in writing courses and workshops, only with a little more structure, as there are often regular assignments.
They can help you reach your goals
All the benefits listed above (accountability, encouragement, learning) will help you enhance your writing skills, which will improve the quality of your writing, and hopefully help you reach your goals.
Whether your community is a group led by an instructor/tutor or an informal gathering, you’re also likely to be exchanging ideas and tips about plotting, time management, and resources, so the ways in which you approach your writing might also change and enable you to write more efficiently. Having a great community of writers also means that if you encounter any challenges, instead of dwelling on the issue, you know that you have a group of people you can rely on and reach out to so that you can resolve things quickly and get back to writing.
While all of these benefits are important, more than anything, you want your writing community to be something that you enjoy being a part of and feel comfortable and welcomed in.
Hopefully, you can surround yourself with a group of people who will cheer you on when you finish the first draft of your manuscript and suggest ideas to help you resolve the plotting issue that you don’t know what to do with. Like anything, writing can feel arduous at times, so having a group of people around to help you celebrate your wins and get through the challenges can make a huge difference.
How to find a writing community
So, now you know all about writing communities, and you may be eager to find one for yourself. But where do you start? Here are some suggestions.
- Do some research — try a quick internet search for writing courses or groups in your area, or look for some that meet online.
- Ask around — ask your writing friends if they’re part of any groups that they’d recommend or if they’ve heard of any great ones.
- Try social media — reach out to your online friends for suggestions or see if there are any online groups on your favourite social media platforms.
- Create a club/community/group of your own — you could do this online or in your local area.
- Browse a writing forum for a while, and join in if it appeals to you.
If you’re interested in joining or creating a writing community, spend some time thinking about what you want to get out of the experience. Research the different types available (online writing groups, in-person courses, forums etc.) until you find one that will work well for you in terms of accessibility, enjoyment, simplicity and so on. You could also try a few different types to see how they compare. I hope you find the kind of community you’re looking for, and above all, have fun!