Not totally related to today's post, but sort of. And I love Inky Girl, so I don't need an excuse.Last night I was feeling very lazy. My dog was sick, I was exhausted, and I was deep into Thirteen Reasons Why, thinking it would be a better idea to just keep reading someone else's, obviously far superior, work then try to make sense of my own (bad nights almost always equal low self-esteem for me, in both myself and my work). Then 9pm rolled around, and like I do every Monday at 9, I logged into a chat with a group of writer friends I have. Some of us are revising, some are writing first drafts, some are querying. We just like to take time out every week to vent, talk about problems we're having, and motivate each other to get through the week. And last night, just like every Monday, after I logged off that chat, I felt invigorated to write, ready to attack my WIP head-first and get it moving. I wanted to catch up to those who were querying, and play along again with those who were in their first drafts (because I'm the type of freak of nature who likes the first draft more than revisions). The chat ended, and I loaded up my WIP and got to editing. And it was all about the community.
Having a community of writers has helped me move forward so much with my writing. After all, it was a community that got me writing again in the first place. Every Wednesday, I go on to YALitChat on Twitter and walk away with the same feeling I get on Mondays - renewed energy and excitement about my WIP. We all need support systems, because when you're having a particularly hard day, there's nothing worse than being by yourself and not knowing where to turn. It's a sure way to stop your writing career in its tracks. I'm not neccessarily talking about crit partners here - though you need those, too. I'm talking about people to chat with, share your joys and sorrows with, people to learn from, that kind of thing.
So how exactly do you go about finding a community? For the most part, it happens naturally, but you can seek out some writer friends by using some of the following resources:
- Blogging. You're probably already doing this, but blogging is honestly one of the best ways to make new writer friends and find a support system. I know I've made several. But it's not just about writing posts on your own site. You also need to read other people's posts and comment thoughtfully on what they've said. I don't comment on every post I read, but whenever a post makes me think, or if it's something that I really appreciated, I always make it a point to leave a little comment to say so. It's the best way to reach out to your fellow bloggers. Then, if someone holds some kind of awesome "let's all motivate each other" fest, you can get in on it, and move your WIP right along.
- Twitter. #Twitterisawesome, but more than that, it's downright useful. Not only can you have daily interaction with regular writers (like me), but actual, well-known, published authors might just talk to you, too! I definitely think that's motivating. Better than that, of course, are the Twitter chats for writers! There are a ton of different ones, but I frequent #YAlitchat (and the awesome corresponding Ning group), #kidlitchat, and #amwritingparty. Inky Girl has an extremely helpful guide to Twitter chats for writers. If you want to learn more about chats, check it out; I definitely suggest you do.
- In real life. OK, this might seem obvious, but honestly, meeting other writers in real life can be hard. I only have one writing friend that I met in real life, and we actually met through the NaNo forums, plus she has a family and a life and is out promoting her book, so I don't see her too much. But having real-life writer friends can be so useful - talking in real life provides something that, sadly, Internet chats just can't. (I still love my Internet besties most of all though, don't worry.) It's also harder to lie to people in real life than over the Internet, so the pressure is on to produce some work. If you want to meet some other writers, check out meetup.com, or look into writing organizations in your area - local SCBWI or RWA chapters, or just general writing groups, like the Tampa Bay Writers' Association in my area.
- Other writer community Web sites. There are a TON of writing community Web sites out there - so go join them! Absolutewrite.com, Critiquecircle.com, Writing.com - the list goes on and on. Agent Nathan Bransford even has a community on his blog. For more communities, check out the Writer's Digest list of communities.
What about you? How has having a sense of community helped you grow as a writer? And what is the best way to establish a community with other writers? Any great sites I missed? Feel free to link them in the comments!