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Getting Involved in a Writing Community
Most of the time, writers are introverts. We spend vast amounts of time in our own heads constructing a story, trying to figure out which tense will best suit our novel, and whose perspective will tell it best. It gets to be a little bit of a habit sometimes. Plus, sometimes the world outside can seem a little….people-y.
However, it is important that every writer find themselves a writing community. This can be a writing group, a critique group, or even just a group of writers who get together for coffee every now and then to just talk shop. But if you’re an introvert, how do you find these communities?
Why Do I have to Network?
When I think of networking, I think of selling myself. And that is just not my jam. I don’t know many people who do, in fact, dig it.
The good news is that networking does not necessarily mean selling yourself. It means making connections. It means finding people who you get on well with who have similar interests and possibly similar or separate skills that you think you might be able to collaborate with. Or it’s just finding people to have a chin wag with.
Networking is essential for a writer. It’s how we find our writing community, it’s how we learn about publishing opportunities, it’s how we learn about marketing techniques, it’s how we meet agents, and coaches (like me!), and editors, and cover-design artists, and most importantly, it’s how we meet other writers. These other writers can become our critique partners, our support group, our beta readers, and other sources of information.
And more good news, you don’t necessarily have to go to writing retreats, conferences, conventions, writing classes, etc. in order to network (though, if you have the opportunity, I do highly recommend at least one of those things. They are so much fun). You can find networking opportunities online.
Finding Your Online Writing Tribe
There are many online resources to help you find your community. First and foremost, it’s a good idea to get involved in at least one group that is just for chatting and talking shop. You would be surprised at the wealth of information out there that other writers are willing to share about their own experiences.
A great place to start is to look through Facebook Groups. Here are a list of some of my favorites:
I find these are the ones that I used to use the most often. I do find, though, that the smaller the group, so long as the group is active, the better it is.
Horrible Writing is a great group because it only has a few hundred (I think), and of that few hundred, you’ll find regular posters who you get to know.
I am a Writer with Sara Warner is a very supportive community, and they are quick on the ball to get to any negativity that might be circulating.
It should also be noted that Horrible Writing is based on author Paul Sating’s podcast Horrible Writing, and I am A Writer is based on author Sara Warner’s podcast, The Write Now Podcast—both are excellent.
The 20booksto50k group can be a little bit daunting. But if you stick with it, there are volumes of information in the archives and documents provided in the group. However, it is geared toward not only writing (and thus discussions on genre), but marketing and self-publishing. It operates under the philosophy of rapid-release publishing, which can mean a book a month, a book every couple of weeks, etc. The idea is that if you rapid release 20 books in a year, you can get to a point where your income is $50k. It sounds pretty good, but it is a lot of work. Even if self-publishing is not your aim or your jam, this group has so much information and focuses on celebrating victories, which can feel very uplifting.
Looking Beyond Facebook
If you’re like me, you might be looking to put some space between you and Facebook. If you are, don’t worry, there are plenty of other ways to find your writing community.
There are other social media platforms that allow you to find your own writing community through the use of hashtags.
It took me far too long to understand what a hashtag is, so for those of you who are like me and just catching up, I’ll throw you a bone.
A hashtag used to be referred to as the pound or number symbol, for those of us who remember such things. But, it’s your classic #.
When on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, you can use a hashtag to draw attention to your post. For people searching or following the hashtag you want to use, they’ll find your post. These people may not even have heard of you or the town you’re from, but if they’re following that hashtag, it’ll likely come up on their radar.
Not all hashtags are create equal, though.
On Instagram, for example, you can type a word in, and you’ll get plenty of hashtags to correspond with it. For example, start typing #write, and you’ll find, #write, #writer, #writercommunigy, #writingcommunity, #writers, #writersofinstagram, #writersofig, #amwriting, #writingishard, #writerslife, etc. This is just a few of them. Basically, if anyone has used it as a hashtag at some point, it’ll come up. The nice thing too, about Instagram, is that when you start searching for a hashtag to use, it will say how many times it’s been used, and thus you know which will draw the most attention.
However, if you use #write on Twitter, you’ll likely only see the most popularly used ones, such as #write and #writingcommunity.
Regardless of the platform you’re on, there are a few hashtags I recommend using to find your writing tribe:
- And if you’re on Instagram, #writersofinstagram
This is of course not an end-all, be-all list. There are new hashtags cropping up and trending every day in every community. But if you hang around these platforms, you’ll pick up on them.
This one sounds a little weird, but for most podcasts out there, there is a webpage with a podcast episode page, which allows you to create comments. Where you can create comments, you can have discussions with other writers and more often than not, with the podcaster themselves.
Here are some of my top recommended writing-related podcasts (in no particular order):
- Writing Excuses
- Write Now
- Horrible Writing
- Helping Writers become Authors Podcast
- Well-Storied Podcast
- Story Makers Podcast
- Beyond the Trope
- The Story Studio
- Story Grid Podcast
- & Then Write
- Create If Podcast
…just to get you started.
Writing Community Websites
There are so many websites out there that offer a writing community, whether they are in forum form or with a specific indication of what they deal with. So the important thing to do is ask yourself what you’re after from a writing community. Do you only want to talk shop? Do you want somewhere to air your dirty writing laundry where people will understand (because let’s face it, it’s unlikely that non-writers truly understand the writer)? Or do you just want to see what people have to say?
Now that you know a little bit more about what you’re after, you can start exploring. Here are some writing community websites that are at least a good place to start.
Sorry, I went there. I know, it’s got everything. It’s not writing specific. But at the same time, Reddit is. There are countless sub-reddits that are just for writers and whatever their writer needs might be. While yes, there is the possibility for things to turn a little ugly, it’s also a great place to meet other writers, and address specific questions.
Alright, I have a love of this one. I found it over a decade ago, loved it, put it away for a while, and forgot all about it and have been struggling to find it since.
And now, I have found it.
Critique circle is for writers who want feedback on their writing. It operates via a credit system. When you sign up, you get three credits. That means, when you post your piece of writing, maybe a chapter of your book, or the whole shebang, then three people can come and critique your piece. The best way to get your piece seen is to critique other pieces. Each time you do, you earn yourself another credit, which means another person can read and comment on your writing.
I love this system. It keeps the flow going. It makes sure everyone is giving as much as they are receiving.
As with any critique, though, it is essential that you remember to be respectful and give constructive feedback rather than just telling them you couldn’t get into it, or it sucked. No one can grow from that.
This website in general is a wealth of information. It provides writing prompts, sources of competitions, general writing articles, and most importantly, a writing community.
Just check out the community tab at the top.
WritersCafe is an excellent spot to not only post your writing and get feedback, to find writing courses, to find other writers, but to create and join a writing group on this very website. It is an all-in-one website for writers.
Best of all, if you do decide to post to this website, they host featured writing pieces each day to help incentivize you.
Hatrack River Writers Workshop
Hatrack River Writers Workshop is an online forum, and like all forums, provides a plethora of threads regarding various topics. However, that isn’t the best part. While there are plenty of places to meet and talk with other writers, there are also writing lessons to go along with, and from there you can discuss the lessons in the forums. And it’s all free.
The one catch is that they aren’t a place for Fanfic. Sorry Fanfic writers. The guidelines/rules are specific about that.
The Next Big Writer
Like a few others that I’ve mentioned, The Next Big Writer isn’t only a forum, but also has options for contests, classes, and a place to post your writing as well. These places are valuable as it means that you have the opportunity to get feedback on your piece from other writers who are going through similar struggles as you.
She Writes is a lady’s website, geared toward supporting our fellow women writers. The writing world can be male dominated. Many people have a default male protagonist simply because it’s what has been seen as normal and is so in the back of the writer’s mind. It takes presence to acknowledge that you may have chosen a male protagonist for simplicity sake, rather than for the strength of the story. This, of course, is not always the case, but it’s a trap that, I, myself, have fallen into a few times in the past.
I mention this because it is just one reason why it is important that women writers have a space to talk just with other women. It’s a chance to expand and give courage to those who want to step away with the common default of fiction.
I once asked in a group (and I purposefully picked a Facebook group with a large number of members ranging in the dozens of thousands) if a book written by a woman with a mostly female cast was considered women’s fiction. The general consensus was divided almost fairly evenly: women said not necessarily, men said yes (and again, I am speaking generically. Not all voices fell exactly in line with this). This mentality can pose a problem when it comes to marketing and readership. For example, I have a book that is written by me (a cis woman), with a mostly female cast of characters, but has nothing to do with woman things. It’s almost purely psychological regarding social trauma and manipulation, and questioning when a person can be considered innocent. This is not women’s fiction, but simply, fiction.
Again, this is the importance to an online writing community and group such as those provided on She Writes.
Online Writing Conferences
Another way to meet writers is through online writing conferences. Yep, those do exist. Usually, how they work, is there are a set of videos that are either live-streamed or are pre-recorded and posted. There are generally options for viewers to leave comments or ask questions. Likewise, it means that you can respond to those questions, or your questions/comments can be addressed.
There are some which offer writing groups through the website as well.
Here are a few online writing conferences.
WriteOnCon is online writers conference that is more geared specifically toward children’s literature, or kidlit and for illustrators.
It runs for three days, during February (sorry guys, missed the 2020 one!). It provides free keynote addresses and critique forums, but offers a variety of affordable upgrades to view video blogs, podcasts, blog posts, and to have permanent access, starting at $10 and ranging to $25.
Two Sylvias Press Poetry Retreat
The Two Sylvias press Poetry Retreat is an online poetry retreat that offers three different sessions ranging from July to October. While this year’s dates haven’t been released yet, it is an annual occurrence.
The neat thing about this is that it isn’t just a retreat for the weekend, but a whole four-week package, including poetry writing prompts, hard copies of some of the Two Sylvia Press poetry publication, journal prompts, and the chance to have your poetry critiqued.
This package, however, isn’t cheap. It comes at a cost of $279. But it can be very much worth it for the die-hard poet.
Women in Publishing Summit
The Women in Publishing Summit is held during National Women’s Month, and is a free summit providing talks from publishers, agents, writers, and marketers. With an upgrade, you can also have access to writer forums as well in order to connect and network with other writers.
Creat Your Own
You can always create a community yourself. By creating a website, you make yourself visible. When you write about writing, or write about your life as a writer, then you make yourself available to other like-minded individuals.
It’s a chance for you to get yourself known, market yourself, gain a following, and from there you’ll learn to cross promote and thus, network.
You can do this by starting a blog or a vlog (video blog). The nice thing about this is that it’s multi-faceted. You learn as you go, and you create community along the way.
You can also do this for free, though there are options to increase your visibility and own your own domain name, which can cost some pennies. However, it’s entirely up to you how you want to go about it.
Which Are You Going For?
There are a lot of ways to you can go about finding your online communities, and there are plenty that I missed out. Some are by creating or engaging with YouTube channels, which I didn’t write about since I don’t have much experience in that area.
And of course, there is always the tried and true method of looking up local writing groups or writing events and going and meeting people, face to face. I do encourage this because it is a method of growth, and it is important that we writers remember that there is an outside world. While chatting to people online can be useful, you don’t get the same energetic connection with them as you do when you’re talking to them face to face, and human contact is somewhat of an important feature of existence, according to those in the know (psychologists).
Let me know what methods work for you, and which don’t. I would love to hear what you have to say, or what you’ve experienced as you’ve sought out and found your writing community.
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