Community plays an important role in physical and mental health. For a writer, community is essential to move beyond the status quo.
Or it was essential for this writer.
For years, I attended classes and wrote in my spare time. Everything I dreamed up seemed fun and unique. I learned from the classes (most offered by my local community college) but none of them provided opportunities for feedback.
Needless to say, the novel I submitted to Love Inspired was summarily rejected with a check of a box and no comments.
I thought it was a decent story. My sister and cousin read it and liked it.
Rule #1: Never accept the opinion of family members and friends to be an accurate judgment of your writing. (That goes whether they love it or hate it.)
Eventually, I took creative writing classes as part of my degree and got serious about following professional writers who gave insightful tips on how to write.
But I still couldn’t find anyone to give me honest feedback.
Until I did. And the news wasn’t great.
Although I had improved my writing skills, I still didn’t understand the mechanics of storytelling.
What is a community?
For this post, let’s define community as: a group of writers who share a common goal and interact to help each other reach the goal.
I often attend a local writer’s group. This is a group of mostly hobby writers who share the joy of wordsmithing but don’t offer feedback on each other’s work. A few of them are self-published but most of them write as a HOBBY.
The key to finding a helpful writing group is:
- Knowing the purpose of the group and that it aligns with your goals
- Having it meet in a time and place that’s workable
- Sharing a common type of writing
For example, the writer’s guild I mentioned is filled with fiction writers. Many of them writing in the science fiction and fantasy genre, which has been off-putting to at least one children’s book writer who came to a few meetings.
Lucky for you, many writing communities meet online. Whether in weekly video chats or Facebook groups, accessing them doesn’t have to be based on proximity. The same could not be said when I started writing.
How can it help?
If you’re writing to be read, a writing group can help you improve your writing. As long as that’s one of the reasons they meet.
Everyone needs honest feedback on their writing. Even if it’s only verbal input from group members, it acts as a gage for how the words resonate with readers.
Beware if your group members aren’t part of your ideal audience. What they say might be helpful in broad strokes, but they aren’t likely to have effective input about what characters and situations readers of the genre will enjoy.
Exposure to other people’s writing can enlighten you. Not that you should compare yourself, but you can judge if you’re on track or behind where you should be.
Some writing groups emphasize teaching writing craft and that’s an extra bonus. Even multi-published authors can improve their technique. As a life-long learner, I’m always looking for ways to make my stories stronger and my prose clearer.
Where can you find one?
If you’re serious about writing your book and getting it published, you’re in luck. I sponsor a free group here.
I post motivational quotes and writing tips and intersperse that with discussion questions about writing craft and process. Members are free to ask any writing-related question.
Mostly it’s a group centered around encouragement and accountability.
Encouragement because most writers—even published authors—want to quit writing at least once per month, if not more frequently.
Accountability because writers are some of the most creative procrastinators in the world.
Learn more about the benefit of free and paid writing communities in this video: