Doing too much of anything alone can get, well, lonely. As writers and authors, we spend a lot of time writing, set up in an office or a quiet room in the house. A nice escape may include a bench in a park, an oversized chair in a favorite coffee shop, or a corner spot in a library. We manage to cancel out the noise even when surrounded by other people, animals, and life happening around us. We write alone. It’s a lonely process, spending so much time wrestling our thoughts and ideas into well-written sentences, powerful paragraphs, curious chapters, and bestselling books. However, the reality is that in order to successfully write, publish, market, and sell a book, you are eventually going to have to interact with other people.
Enter the writer’s community. In particular, the virtual or online writing community. A place to connect and collaborate with other writers despite distance and opposing schedules. Writer groups have been around for hundreds of years. The online versions for about the past two decades or so where writers can get together virtually and offer each other support and a break from the normal routine without leaving the desk, bed, or chair. Just knowing other writers are out there writing away the time along with you can be motivating and inspirational. If joining a writer’s group isn’t something you have tried or considered before, you are in for a pleasant surprise.
I first encountered the idea of communal writing when I first joined the National Novel Writing Month contest. Every day for a month, thousands of other writers were writing along with me at all hours of the day and night, posting updates, asking questions, venting frustrations, and mainly just putting it out there that they were writing or trying to write and meet their noveling and word count goals. The format was an online forum along with local “write-in” meetings that were organized locally once or twice a week at a nearby venue such as a coffee shop or college dorm common room. I was honestly a little too busy and timid to go meet complete strangers in a personal setting, so I opted for the online version instead.
The experience was similar to having a group of common friends to hang out with who provided support at a moments notice. Just knowing they were there made things a little easier. I admit that back then I didn’t know the first thing about writing a novel other than being challenged to write as many words as I could based on an outline, day after day, along with the rest of the writing world participating in the month long contest. There was something to the idea that I wasn’t really alone in what I was doing that egged me on night after night. It was very much similar to the online chat feature on social media platforms. But it only lasted one month a year and was over just as soon as it started.
This got me thinking: Are there other “online” or plugged-in writing communities out there worthy of joining? What are the advantages? Would other writers working on books year round be interested in participating in a “write-in” format with me? I certainly wanted to find one. After trying a few out and not finding one that fit my needs, I decided to start my own.
Advantages to Joining a Virtual Writers Community
- Collaborate in a private virtual workspace – think of it like taking a virtual college course where everyone is in the same “room” at any given time. You are all present and have the ability to interact with one another and with the moderator, ask questions or offer inspirational messages. Connect with other writers to work one-on-one together at a different times for reviews, feedback, brainstorming or chatting.
- Evaluation – reach out to others to swap stories for review and feedback. Getting early feedback on your book can help head off major rewrites later.
- Education – learn from the best as well as the amateurs. Going through the process of writing and editing a first draft is a valuable and memorable lesson.
- Inspiration – writing alongside dozens, hundreds, or a thousand+ other writers with similar goals as yours will definitely keep you going.
- Information – learn new ways do do something, or about something entirely unknown, such as a process or tool.
- Socialization – meet other like-minded individuals. Get to know them outside of their novels and writing career.
- Publication – meet others who may be contacts in the publishing world. There are many publishing professionals just a click away who are interested and have the power to change your career in an instant.
- Promotion – share your ideas and story with other writers and get your name out there. It is never too soon to begin building your reader base.
- Gain new perspective – connect with writers from all genres and walks of life and see things from a new perspective by engaging in conversations about each others work. Ask for advice or run an idea by a fellow writer for a new opinion and set of eyes.
- Build confidence – getting out there among others and sharing your work can make any timid writer more confident in their ability and effort.
- Unblock and have fun – having a moment or many where you feel blocked from ideas and words? Interacting with other writers might be just the distraction you need to get those ideas rolling again. Remember, you are writing because you enjoy it. Get out there and have some fun!
- Improve your craft and help others – learning new ways to write and coming up with new ideas from others input may inspire you to share some of your own knowledge. Communities work best as a two-way road, so share the wealth.
- It’s not as nerve wracking as being in person – you are safe to sit where you are most comfortable writing and remain physically alone, yet not feel so isolated and without any of the self-conscious nervousness and exposure you may experience in an in-person closed group. Feel more comfortable emerging from your shell in a virtual environment.
- Find encouragement to keep going – conversing with other writers who feel your pain can offer the support and encouragement to keep you going even on your worst writing days.
- Become a better writer – any interaction, whether reading others comments or directly communicating, can only make you better at what you do. Isolation breeds insecurity. Community breeds confidence.
- Make time to write – plugging in to a writing community and seeing how many other writers are pounding out words around the clock will make you want to step up your game. Schedule time in each day to meet your personal goals and stay in the game.
- Networking – meeting others with the same goals helps you build your author and reader network. This is something you need to do as early as possible if you have plans to publish a book.
- Achieve your writing goals – joining a group with a word count goal or common writing goal will motivate you to reach your personal goal. Mingle with the masses and keep up with the competition!
- Honest feedback – discover beta readers in the community who are willing to swap stories or parts of manuscripts and provide honest feedback from an outside perspective. This early feedback will save you days of rewriting and head banging against a wall.
- New information and ideas – fresh eyes from fresh readers brings you fresh ideas to expand on your evolving story. If you get stuck on a detail, throw it out there and see what comes back.
Types of Writers You Will Find in a Writers Community
- The new writer who is learning the ropes, who has made a commitment to focus and write that first book. They need a lot of support, motivation, and advice.
- The experienced writer interested in networking with other writers and expanding their reader and writer network.
- The novelist who is looking for initial feedback on a new book. They want to bounce ideas off other writers in terms of characters, plot, and conflict.
- The seasoned writer who is working on a new book and is looking for interaction with other writers because they are so used to writing alone and find it refreshing to know just who is out there and that they are working very hard, too.
What You Can Bring to a Writing Community
You get back what you give. There are many ways you can get involved in a writing community and you don’t have to spend a lot of time with irrelevant interactions. Make it worth your time by:
- Becoming a beta reader for another author
- Reviewing another writers book
- Sharing your reading list to help support other writers and genres
- Buying a fellow authors book
- Volunteering to help out any way you can, especially lending support and advice to new aspiring authors
- Making a point to meet up with local writers
- Showing support by sharing your skills – blurbs, editing, sales, marketing
Whatever you choose to do, enjoy it! Become a part of the group and celebrate the members efforts and achievements. Invest in the community and the returns will boost your own career as a writer.
Who: Writers’ Connection
What: An online community of aspiring and established authors all with the same goal in mind – to write a book!
Where: https://writers-connection.com You need to be a member to participate, so create a free author profile today if you haven’t already, and you are in!
When: Write now! We are building a new feature for writers who are members of the community.
Why: Because we all write alone and there are many advantages to being a part of a writers community.
How: Simply sign up a free author profile and look for updates on upcoming write-in at https://writers-connection.com/register/
By now, I am hopeful that you are convinced that it is time to join an online writing community. There are many different types of writing communities. There is the traditional, in-person local group along with plenty of online options. They all offer something different. Rather than give you a rundown of literally dozens of online communities you can easily find with a simple Google search, I will tell you about the newest one hosted by Writers’ Connection and why it is different.
It’s called “Never Write Alone” and is a community “write-in” hosted on Twitter. Catch it every other Monday, beginning at 6pm Pacific, 7pm Mountain, 8pm Central, 9pm Eastern. Simply follow us @Authors_Market and use the hashtag #NeverWriteAlone to join and follow the TweetChat conversation. This is an opportunity to write alongside other writers and authors, to learn, ask questions, and connect with them.
Article written by Anne M. Carroll