Tuesday, March 2, 2010

A community of my own

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!


  1. Very cool post. I have a small group of friends who share and comment on each other's work. Having someone you trust look over your stuff is beyond helpful. And moving beyond that in the ways that you mention here sounds like the logical next step for me. Thanks so much for the info and the links.

  2. Great post. Having a critique is invaluable. I learnt the hard way by squirreling away in private and never letting anyone see my work, which does little towards progress.

    Thanks for the links :)

  3. I love our weekly chat! It really does keep me excited to keep on working even when I feel like being lazy.

    I don't have IRL writing friends, but it's fine because I live my life more online than I do IRL...it all works out. ;-)

    I'm glad we are writing buddies!

  4. Sarahjayne - You're welcome! I definitely agree, having someone you trust look over your stuff is the most important thing, but it's also nice to have a wider circle to just chat with.

    Wendy - I never knew how much a critique would help me until I got one. I know what you mean!

    Jess - I obviously love it too :) And I'm so glad I met (is that even the right word? it feels like I know you...) you! One day I'll meet you for real!

  5. Great post! I didn't know how much I would appreciate IRL writing friends till I met some during last year's NaNo. It's always helpful to have someone who knows what you're going through!

  6. Great post Heather! I've been feeling frusterated and down about my WIP and reading this post and getting some reassurance from my critique partners really helped me feel better about everything and I feel really comforted to know that I'm not the only one that has bad days with life and with writing. I'm really glad your a part of the blogosphere, you blog posts always manage to brighten my day! :D

    Thank you!

  7. Great post! I can't wait for crit partners (when the time comes) but for now I'm really enjoying all the help I'm getting on blogger!

  8. Thank you for the links Heather.

  9. Awesome post Heather :-) Yep, building community with other writers has been one of the best things to ever happen for me! Seriously. Crit partners, motivation, WAY more writing.

    I feel so bad for the people out there who don't know about this stuff!!

  10. Face time with other writers is THE top motivator for me. And knowing I have two groups of people eager to know what's going to happen next keeps that revision mojo on task!

    Attending local workshops is an excellet way to get connected to writers near you. Whining to your IRL friends and relatives on Facebook also worked for me. LOL.

  11. Wonderful post, Heather! I didn't become serious about my writing, or even understand the difference between scribbling (what I did before) and writing for an audience (what I do now) until I joined Writing.com. It was through that community of writers that I learned the most about the craft and gleaned the most inspiration and support. Now that I've discovered blogging, I sense my work again going to the next level. Belonging to a community of writers cannot be underestimated!

    If you get the chance today, hop over to my blog. I've left you a little something there :))

  12. The blogs are a wonderful community, kind of like a virtual meeting at the backyard fence neighborhood. We stop in for a visit, catch up and get inspired by eachother. The dialogues that get going in the comments are often as inspiring as the posts themselves!

    I clicked over from Nicole's blog, enjoyed browsing!

  13. My writing group is my life line. They've become great supporters and dear friends. Twitter is a fun way to keep in touch with all writing world peeps. And of course blogging. I haven't ventured out to any local writing groups but I prob should.

  14. i guess it just prooves that other people have writers block :P



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