Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Importance of Building a Writing Community

The Importance of Community -- writing is a team sport!
Photo by Proctor Archives on Flickr
I received a request to do a blog post detailing all the reasons why you should make friends with other writers. This post will definitely go into those reasons, but I want to focus more on ways to build that community based on my personal experience.

The bottom line is as follows: if you are a writer, you should join with other writers. They are the only people in the world who truly understand you. The right writing community will laugh with you, cry with you, and scream into the night with you (not too loudly; you'll wake the neighbors). A good group can mean the difference between success and failure. Community for writers is invaluable.

You might not yet be sold on the idea of coming together with other writers. "It's a solitary craft," I hear you whine, "why in the world should I talk to anybody?" Here are some benefits to joining a community of writers:
  • Mentorship

  • Critique

  • Promotion

  • Inspiration

  • Motivation

  • Support

  • Discipline...
... and many, many more. I could go on for days about how becoming a member of a writing community has helped me, but it's better if you can see it firsthand. Let's say you're psyched. You want to meet with other writers to discuss issues of plot and elements of style. So how can you create or join a community?

Be active on social media. ESPECIALLY TWITTER. Seriously, people. Twitter changed my life. I've made so many writing friends on there that I almost can't believe it. Feel free to follow me and we can live it up. If you have social media accounts, make sure you use them! And often! No one likes an inactive user. Tweet, reply, mention, direct, message, or whatever it takes to keep up with the Kardashians (kidding, of course, because none of them are writers).

Ask for nothing. I mean it. Don't tweet at people asking them to read your stuff over and over again, especially if you've never had a normal conversation. Don't ask people to buy everything you put out. Don't obsess over self-promotion. That's a massive turn-off. Just be you. Focus on building relationships and you'll find that plenty of people will be interested in your work.

Do nice things for other people. This tip goes hand in hand with not asking for anything. When it comes to flourishing in a community, you need to give more than you receive. Help people out. Be a good human being. Remember the Golden Rule? Yeah, it's time you use it. The nicer you are to other writers, the more likely it is that they'll return the favor.

Reach out. If you've got a question or need advice about something, don't be afraid to ask! Sometimes all you need is some encouragement. That's where community comes in. I've had so many questions answered by my friends on Twitter, and I'm eternally grateful for their help. Don't feel embarrassed to reach out for help! Everyone's been there at one point or another.

It's not that hard to meet and interact with other writers. As long as you follow my tips, focus on being genuine, and use your manners, you'll be just fine.

What do you think of these tips? How has joining a community helped you and your writing?

4 comments:

  1. I never had much luck with Twitter. I found I was spending so much time trying to build relationships with other Tweeters that I was sacrificing good writing time. But I completely agree with your tips overall. Especially the "do nice things for other people" concept.

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  2. Twitter can definitely become a distraction. I try to only let myself on Twitter after I've gotten some writing done.

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  3. Great post. I definitely agree on the 'Ask For Nothing' suggestion. An endless stream of self-promoting tweets does no good while conversely I'm much more likely to follow and support people who are just themselves.
    I always imagine Twitter as a big party; how long would you spend with someone who was incapable of a decent conversation with you and only interested in selling you something?

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  4. Twitter is a virtual cocktail party. That's one reason why self-promotion is ineffective--that and the fact that it turns people against you.

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