Writing is something you do alone in a room. Copy that sentence and put it on your wall because there’s no way to exaggerate or overemphasize this fact. It’s the most important thing to remember if you want to be a writer. Writing is something you do alone in a room.
– Michael Ventura
It’s true. Writing is basically sitting by yourself in a room and trying to create something meaningful out of thin air.
And it can be lonely. Not only are you spending your day talking to imaginary characters, you’re likely not talking to any real people either.
You’re alone. In an empty room. By yourself.
When I wrote my first book, I really felt this. I’d taken a few writing classes but hadn’t really put myself out there enough to make friends. I’d hired an editor but it was a purely professional relationship. I was barely on social media, and while my friends and family were extremely supportive and interested, they couldn’t quite understand what I was going through.
Then everything changed.
Upon being introduced to and incorporating myself into the online writing community, that loneliness vanished. My mental health improved, my writing process advanced, and even my daily word count got higher and higher.
So for those of you who haven’t found that – or aren’t sure where to start – I’m sharing my favorite ways to meet like-minded people who can lift up your writing – and your life.
Where to get involved:
Twitter may be one of the best (or worst) ways to procrastinate, but it can also be used for good. In fact, joining Twitter was probably the best thing I have ever done for my writing career.
The writing community is extremely welcoming, supportive and interactive. Not only could you make new friends, you may just find the encouragement or advice you need to forge ahead with your work.
Other great hashtags include #amwriting, #WritersCheer, #writerslife and #CPmatch.
Another great and more direct way to integrate into the writing community via Twitter is by participating in chats. These typically occur at the same time and day each week (or each month) and consist of answering questions and interacting with others for an hour or so.
This is actually how I met my three fabulous critique partners and friends!
My favorite chats:
- #StorySocial (every Wednesday at 8pm CST)
- #Chance2Connect (the second Tuesday of every month at 8pm CST)
- #WritersPatch (every Sunday at 10am CST)
- #MondayMixer (every Monday at 7pm CST)
Similar to Twitter, Facebook is abundant with writing groups to join. The good thing about Facebook is there’s no character limit, so you can really go into an issue you’re having and ask for help or support. And trust me, you will get it.
These are just four of the many, but may be a good place to start:
- Your Write Dream
- All the Kissing
- 10 Minute Novelists
- Writers Helping Writers
Now before this past year, I wasn’t a big believer in NaNo. Writing 50,000 words in one month just seemed like a good recipe for burnout. But I ended up participating last year, and it was pretty incredible. Not only did I hit my word count goal, but through the online portal and the hashtag on Twitter, I met a host of new writer friends and strengthened the relationships I already had.
Conferences, Writing Retreats and Local Critique Groups
I know we are mainly talking about social media here, but once you have built up your online writing community, you may feel ready to take the next step. From everything I have heard, these are absolutely fantastic experiences.
I am attending my first writing retreat this April, so I will let you all know how it goes.
All of these methods are also great ways to find beta readers, which you can read all about here.
If none of these feel right to you, here’s a list of fifteen other communities that may be helpful!
How to get involved:
Now you may be thinking, “All of these sound great, but how do I actually go about making connections once I’m there?”
Signing up for a Twitter account is easy, but actually putting yourself out there and interacting can be hard. Especially since most writers of us writers are huge introverts…
But there a few things to keep in mind that may help you feel as if you’re not just jumping into a black hole of socialization.
#1 – They are all just like you.
Whether they are writing, querying or already published, every writer has been exactly where you are right now or may even be there now. They face the same insecurities and anxieties. And since some of them have already been through it, they are likely to have great tips on how to get through.
#2 – Be yourself.
It’s tempting to make your online life seem all rainbows and butterflies. Yet everyone knows that’s not the truth. I am not telling you to whine all the time either, but don’t be afraid to be vocal about your struggles or to celebrate your wins. Sharing what’s truly going on in your journey will make you seem more authentic and attract like-minded people.
#3 – Engage more than you broadcast.
It’s sometimes tempting to post everything you’re thinking, every great article you come across, every funny meme. And while it may be quality content, your followers may not appreciate it if you don’t also interact with them. So jump in on a public conversation, participate in Twitter polls, write a quick comment of encouragement or sympathy. Engage, engage, engage!
#4 – Lift others up.
Like I said above, the writing community is an extremely supportive and encouraging place. We are constantly celebrating each other’s wins – big or small – and lauding our progress and talent. Be sure to do the same. Has a fellow writer posted a snippet from their work and you love it? Tell them, retweet it. See someone celebrating their word count progress for the day? Congratulate them. You’ll make a new friend, and the rest of the community will see how awesome you are too.
#5 – If you don’t try, you will automatically fail.
It’s scary to put yourself out there, I know. But if you don’t, you will miss out on everything wonderful that comes with it. Bouncing ideas off each other, celebrating, commiserating and mourning together, finding supportive readers, laughing and learning about the entire publishing process.
Don’t you want all that? All you have to do is reach out and someone will be waiting for you.