In the life of a writer, isolation is a given – you spend days and long nights in your own space, free from the faintest distraction, pouring your stories out. But there’s also the desire for your words to be read and heard; to talk about things like building characters and to know that your listener “gets” it; to be among people who find the frequent misuse of “literally” just as silly.
So, writers form and participate in writing communities. Clubs, circles, virtual chat rooms, forums, Facebook groups, retreats, weekend meets, classrooms…they’re called different things, but are broadly based on the same idea – the coming together of like minded people to socialise with, help and learn from one another.
Here’s why you should too…
- You’ll Overcome Fear.
This isn’t limited to beginners and young authors. Putting your stories, poems and books out there can be unnerving, no matter how many books you’ve sold. When you share your writing, you reveal slices of your heart and mind. At a writing community, everyone can relate to this. Most groups create an atmosphere of receptiveness and approachability. They’re free from ruthless reviewers and Internet trolls. You’ll have a platform to come out of your shell, bare yourself through words, and enjoy it.
- You’ll be Criticised – Constructively.
When you have an open mind, constructive criticism can do wonders for you. In a writing community, you’re part of each other’s personal jury; your fellow wordsmiths will read your drafts and review your books. They can grasp each nuance, point their fingers at what sounds a bit “off” and tell you exactly what you need to take it up a notch. And you won’t just hear about your weaknesses, but also how you can turn them into strengths. Most importantly, you’ll learn to look at your own writing from fresh perspectives – this will help you mature a great deal.
- You’ll Have a Support System.
Going through a writer’s block? Consult the community…they’ve all battled the anxiety of filling up blank pages. They know the importance of writing a lousy first draft. They’ll tell you when you’re being too hard on yourself. You’ll hear of ten different ways to overcome creative hurdles. And as time goes by, your group mates will witness your growth, your journey. Together, you can celebrate achievements that writers understand best – like finding your own voice and conjuring up your first world! Isn’t that delightful?
- You’ll Grow.
A writing community is one of the best places to explore new genres, characters, plots, styles, tones, perspectives, processes and techniques. You’ll have brainstorms, workshops, reviewing sessions and lots of discussion. In fact, communities like online forums are pretty much centred on discussion; they have active boards that focus on specific topics like niches, techniques, styles and publishing. You can get – and learn to give – some great writing advice. As part of an audience, you can develop the mind of a critic. And every once in a while, you’ll read things that inspire you to write some of your best pieces.
- You’ll Become More Productive.
Discipline is oh-so-important in a writer’s life. But it’s one of the few things we often overlook…we’re creative, after all! Seeing writers behave differently from ones on television – sticking to their schedules, having “real” writing jobs and working hard consistently – inspires other writers to follow their foot steps. You’ll have examples of meticulous, systematic and well-organised writers all around you. That can do wonders for your motivation and productivity.
- You’ll Find Friends, Partners and Mentors.
Socialising with other writers is an uplifting experience! In time, writing communities grow into close-knit groups of friends, fans, collaborators and mentors. You can bond over things you perhaps wouldn’t be able to with friends and family. You’ll find people you can bounce ideas off with such ease, that collaborations naturally follow. And what better place to find your writing mentor than in a writers’ group?
Approach your writing community with the right frame of mind – open to feedback, willing to share yours constructively, eager to learn – and there’s no limit to how much it will enrich you.