Hello and happy Wednesday!
As you read this, I’m currently halfway through an in-person writing conference. And what an adventure it’s been so far! While I’ve attended several online conferences, this is my first one in-person, and I’m so thankful for the opportunity. Getting the chance to learn so much about writing is such a blessing!
It’s also been wonderful to spend the week with a great group of fellow writers! Though the introvert in me struggles sometimes (haha), I’ve enjoyed meeting everyone and look forward to keeping in touch with many of them. There’s just something about being immersed in a sea of other passionate writers that makes me very inspired and motivated.
And the week has been an excellent reminder of how important writing community it is. Though I’ve been blessed to be part of a large online writing community for years now, writing community can also just mean having a friend or two who is a writer. It can be as expansive and organized, or as small and informal, as you want. It simply means knowing and interacting with other writers.
For quite a few years when I first started writing, I kept it to myself. No one else could read it, I didn’t really talk about it to other people, and I didn’t know any other writers. My writing was a solo endeavor, and I figured everything out (or tried to anyway) on my own. At the time I didn’t see any problem with that.
It wasn’t until I reached my sophomore year of high school and I joined an online writing community that I realized what I’d been missing. All of a sudden, I had people to talk to my writing about, brainstorm story ideas with, ask to proofread my work (and offer to do the same for them), laugh over writing memes with, receive encouragement and feedback from, and learn with.
I’ve noticed the largest amount of growth and improvement in my writing since getting involved with fellow writers – by far! Looking back, that’s when my growth really started. Though I made small steps forward by myself, receiving other feedback and bouncing ideas off others was what made the largest difference.
It also has been the biggest reason I’ve continued to write. I absolutely love writing, but every writer gets discouraged. And my struggle with perfectionism and self-criticism has tempted me to give up many times. The support and kindness I’ve received from those in the writing community has been a huge blessing. No matter how down I get about myself and my writing, community has always helped me find my way back to enjoying it again.
When I started writing, I had false ideas about what it meant to be a writer. I thought it meant isolation, solitude, and working alone. And while a large part of writing is solo work, that doesn’t have to be all. In fact, writing is most fulfilling when others are involved.
Writing community is all over and in many different forms. It can mean joining an online forum, getting involved in a local writing group, meeting for coffee (or tea!) with a friend who also enjoys writing…anything that fits our personality best and gets us interacting with other writers. The benefits of not only keeping our writing journeys to ourselves are numerous.
I’ve been reflecting on that this week, and thought I’d share five reasons why I believe writers need community of some sort. If you’re not currently involved with other writers, my hope is that these reasons encourage you to seek out writing community of your own!
This is one of the most important reasons to find a writing community in my opinion. Every writer goes through periods of time where they don’t feel like their writing is any good. We get discouraged, we criticize every element of our work, and we wonder why we’re even writing in the first place. The phrase that we’re our own worst critics is usually very true.
Discouragement is a crippling thing to experience, and if left unchecked, it can lead to truly talented writers giving up. An encouraging writing community can make all the difference in a situation like this. When we feel like our stories are horrible, our writing is worthless, and we should just give up, even just one encouraging statement to the contrary can give us new perspective.
A good writer friend will always encourage you. Now, this doesn’t mean lie to you if you ask for feedback and something truly needs work. But an encouraging friend will make sure to point out what you’re doing right while they offer suggestions for making something better. They’ll emphasize what they like about it, how much potential it has, and that every story or article has to start somewhere. Writing can always improve if we just keep at it. But it takes encouragement and someone believing in us before we find strength to keep going.
This is another huge reason to find writing community. Outside perspectives are crucial when it comes to growing as a writer. Of course, we want to find people that we can trust – people that will be encouraging while they’re helping us – but once we do, those insights are like gold. Receiving feedback from fellow writers will help us see our writing in a new light and hopefully catch mistakes and oversights that we missed.
One caveat to this is that just because someone has suggested something, doesn’t mean you’re obligated to change anything about your writing. Everyone has different opinions, and what one person may dislike might be another’s favorite part. Writing styles vary and that’s okay! So when receiving feedback, keep in mind that you don’t have to change anything. Feedback is simply giving another perspective.
The key is to find perspectives that you can trust. Find writing community with writers whose work you enjoy and respect. Still take that feedback with a grain of salt, but if you consider the writer to be knowledgeable, then definitely use the opportunity to learn! And it doesn’t only have to be feedback about writing technique, but also about what they think from a reader’s perspective too. It’s difficult to see our works from an unbiased light, so finding out others’ impressions of our characters, writing style, material, etc. is so helpful!
Writing community is important simply for the friendship aspect! It’s always nice to have friends that share some of your hobbies and passions. A common belief is that writers are isolated hermits, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Yes, we spend a lot of time alone while we write, but that doesn’t mean we can’t ever have friendships. In fact, in my experience, writing friendships tend to be some of the most supportive relationships there are.
As nice as it is to have friends that will give feedback and help you when you ask for it, writing friendships are important simply because they’re enjoyable! Who else are you going to gush to about your characters, talk to about your latest project, or share writing jokes with? And they’ll certainly do the same with you. Sometimes just being able to talk about writing and share our experiences is all we need to stay inspired and motivated.
I’m not much of a social butterfly, and making friends has never come especially easily to me. So the opportunity to make friends with people who share a passion of mine has been such a blessing. If nothing else, there’s always that one thing in common, and there’s always something interesting to talk about. Finding a writing community can lead to some very meaningful and uplifting relationships, so I definitely recommend looking for them!
Technically, everything I’ve mentioned so far can count as help – encouragement, feedback, and friendship. But writing community can also lead to a lot of practical help as well. Writers are a versatile bunch, and everyone has a different set of skills and talents. When we band together to help one another out, a lot can happen!
For example, I’m not very good at graphic design, so asking the opinion of fellow writers with an eye for design has been so helpful in my publishing journey so far. For book covers, social media graphics, blog post headers…all sorts of images. It’s just not my strength, and I’m so grateful for the help I’ve received from other writers that excel in that area. And similarly, I’ve been able to offer help to writers that struggle with writing dialogue.
Most writers really enjoy helping each other out in any way they can. Whether it’s proofreading, brainstorming with one another, spreading the word about a published work, researching, swapping skills (such as making a cover, offering to edit, or formatting), or anything else. Writers working together and combining strengths can accomplish so much for everyone involved. So knowing other writers is helpful from a practical sense, too.
Once again, this encompasses most, if not all, of the previous points, but a writing community is also a wonderful support system. Though I’ve heard some people claim that writers are competition and treat one another accordingly, that’s not the majority of what I’ve seen. Instead, most writers are very willing and eager to support one another.
Support can look like whatever it is that you’re needing at the time. Practical help, like the things we looked at above (proofreading, graphics, etc.), encouragement when you’re feeling unmotivated and amateur, feedback when you’re looking to gain other perspectives, spreading the word about your writing to others, someone to gush, brainstorm, and laugh with, or simply a kind word on a rough day.
No matter how much we love writing, eventually everyone runs into troubles, difficult days, and issues that we don’t know how to deal with on our own. That’s when having support is crucial. Having other people to lift us up and help us back on our trek again can make all the difference between a stressful writing journey and a fulfilling one. In my experience, community between writers is something very worth seeking out.
And those are five reasons why I believe writers need community. Can writers still write without it? Yes, of course. But in my opinion, encouragement, support, help, and feedback are crucial to growth as a writer, and to a fulfilling writing journey. Having fellow writers that can assist you and build you up when you’re tempted to quit makes such a difference!
What do you think about having a community as a writer? Are you part of a writing community? Why or why not? I’d love to hear about your experience, so feel free to tell me about it in the comments below!