I first started writing because I wanted to tell a story.
Wait. That’s wrong.
I first started writing because I wanted to read a story that didn’t exist, except in pieces in my head.
The only way for me to find out who exactly these characters were, what exactly happened to them, and WHY — was to write it until the story rang true.
I know that’s not how writing works for everyone. However. With my conceptual imagination? That’s still how it works for me.
But when I started writing, I was writing alone.
The stereotype of the writer is the heavy drinking — or maybe tea-drinking loner with dozens of cats for company. With a feel that truly great art — great writing — only comes from pain.
Well? I know that it depends on what you like to write, and what you like to read, and what brought you to where you are today. However, that stereotypical writer life doesn’t sound very healthy to me.
Be you an introvert, an extrovert, or something in-between, most of us thrive in supportive environments, that push us to achieve something greater.
In this day and age of the internet, supportive writing communities can be found everywhere.
Maybe you like the challenge of NaNoWriMo — National Novel Writing Month, where you pledge to write 50,000 words in one month. But, NaNoWriMo is more than just a website account where you update your daily word count. NaNoWriMo has forums, twitter hashtags, and facebook groups. Plus? They support local writing groups with liaisons running in-person (and, in these days, virtual) meetups and write-ins and overnighters.
You can be active year round, or only touch a pen during November and you’re still just as valid a member of the community. You can be a 15 year champion (hitting the word count goal every year), or average 500 words every November and you still count.
Maybe twitter is your jam. Sharing your updates on the #5amWritersClub, joining the different hashtag chats and sharing writing memes and progress posts.
You might be the type of writer who joins those twitter pitch contests: #pitMad, #sffPit, #dvPit, where you tweet a short pitch for your polished manuscript and hope a literary agent from a respectable agency likes your tweet. If so, it’s an invitation to query, where you typically get moved to the top of their inbox.
For the low-key writer who loves a good aesthetic, #authorsOfInstagram may be for you. Cover reveals, office set ups, and quotes from favorite books abound for authors on Instagram. While less centralized than other social medias, it’s a great place to connect one-on-one.
If you’re a facebook user, there are groups for all sorts of genre writers and all ranges. There are professional groups and critique circle groups. There’s the Sub-It-Club and the Insecure Writers Group. I personally run several support groups for PitchWarrior hopefuls, and admin a few others.
Social Media In General
Social media, in general, is a good way to connect. Reddit, tumblr, MeWe, or wherever you hang out, is likely to have a group or ten for writers. Take a look.
Speaking of PitchWars — for those of you who don’t know, PitchWars is an online mentorship opportunity, where you query mentors like you would an agent. If you are accepted, you work with them to revise your full manuscript, and at the end, all of the re-worked manuscripts are showcased, with reputable agents invited to visit and make offers. Some books get into bidding wars, and some still don’t find an agent, but in either case, you get a more-polished manuscript.
While I’ve never been a mentee, I’ve found plenty of critique partners and supportive friends from the community — it’s full of writers with finished and polished manuscripts, ready to query — exactly the same stage of writing career that I’m at.
PitchWars is very active on twitter, it has its own forums, not to mention, of course, the facebook support groups.
Local Writing Groups
Outside of your local NaNoWriMo group, many cities and regions have their own writing groups — some are critique circles, some are open mic nights, some are support groups, some are accountability groups, and some are all-of-the above. Know what sort of group you’d prefer, hit the internet, and see what you can find!
My local NaNoWriMo group has its own group on discord servers, with easy-add-in sprint bots, and rooms to discuss plot issues.
My local writing groups and the cons I’ve worked? They also have their own discord servers. These are just chat rooms where you can share images, files, and more.
An Archive Of Their Own, Wattpad, and more
Some writing communities form around the works themselves. On AO3, Wattpad, and more, writers share their works (often in chapter style increments), get feedback, and often learn to improve their writing.
It’s not unheard of for major successes to end up getting traditional publishing deals (but it’s not an avenue for success I would recommend, because the odds are not with you.
Conventions and Book Fairs
Then, there are your conventions and book fairs. Some are focused on professional development, some on the joy of reading, some celebrate certain genres. While you can get a lot of of them, it typically takes about 3 visits to a particular event to really get comfortable and familiar with an event. After that? Networking becomes easier.
There’s no right way to attend a convention, but a few of the methods are:
- hanging out at the bar to network (colloquially called “BarCon”)
- attending workshops and panels, either casually, or hitting 30 panels in 3 days, and filling a notebook with tips
- wandering around, absorbing the sights and talking to whomever you meet. Collecting all the freebies and giveaways
- strategically attending panels or pitch-sessions and actively trying to network — approaching it like a professional development conference
- working the convention
- Do you want to run lights? Register people? Help with the website? Are you an EMT and want to help with First aid? Do you want to run the disability services so that everyone can have the right accommodations? Maybe you want to help with programming — making sure there are events you want to see or be a liaison for the speakers? There are jobs, big and small, for almost anyone.
Some of us writers love to talk about what we do, we like to write with friends anywhere, and don’t mind (or want to become comfortable with) video taping ourselves and putting it out there. Authortube is a youtube hashtag community, by authors, for authors.
The authortube community hosts live-streamed write ins, workshops, writing vlogs, progress posts, and just about anything you can think of that’s writing related. A fair number are self-published. While a few #authorTubers are here for the drama — sharing ‘did you hear what just happened’ reaction videos, we also have book-bloggers, talking about what they read and liked — or hated, journalers, and more. Most of us are there for the community.
While many people keep crashing into the toxic side of the internet, I usually only hear about most drama second-hand. Instead, I just keep making new friends who share my passion.
The writing community takes as many forms as there are writers. If you are out there, if you are writing alone, without support, without a network, you don’t have to go it alone.
If you want a connection: no matter the format, no matter the scale, there is a writers community out there for you.
And if there isn’t?
Build it and they will come.
Is there a community you’ve found that I’ve left off?
Do you have a community you’d like to talk about!
Please share in the comments below.
P.S. Check out this week’s podcast! [Season 1] Episode 8: Writing Fight Scenes That Work …
P.P.S Plus! There’s a bonus episode this week, because we’re in the middle of the PitchWars annual mentor bloghop: [Season 1] Bonus Episode 1: A Message To My Fellow PitchWars Hopefuls