December 19, 2011

make friends

Twelve Days of Writing No. 9: Build a writing community.

On several occasions, I have heard writers say they had to kiss their social lives good-bye to succeed. Writing is time consuming, and when you add in work, family and other commitments it leaves little time for anything else.

Writing may be a solitary activity, but it does not have to be. Like most things in this world, writing can be enjoyable when you share it with others. I am not saying you have to co-author a novel or screenplay, but you can still make it a group sport.

Here are a few ways:

•  Join or create a writing group. Hold weekly, biweekly or monthly meetings to discuss your projects, attend conferences and so on. This is a great way to meet fellow local writers.

•  Work with critique partners. Before you ever send your work to an agent or editor take some time to share it with others. While having a spouse, sibling or friend read it works, having a buddy or few to swap projects to critique is even better. A critique partner will be honest with you, and vice-versa. You build a relationship around your writing, which enables you to know each others' strengths and weaknesses.  

•  Hold mass writing sessions. This is something I started doing recently, and I love it. A couple of friends and I get together regularly to write. Each of us puts our headphones in, turn on our computers and zone out while we write. We often do not speak much while we work, which is perfect. Even though we may not be directly interacting, having one, two or 10 other people writing at the same time motivates me to keep going. Perhaps it is the competitor in me, but when I see someone else typing away furiously I get jealous and think, "I can do that, too."

•  Join online writing groups. Whether you go to Twitter, join websites such as Savvy Authors or Women's Lit Cafe, you will network with fellow writers outside of your geographic location. Some of my favorite fellow writers are people I have never met in real life. You can swap war stories, motivate each other and give and receive advice.

The best part about doing this? You will find out you are not alone. The solitude that comes with writing can be isolating and depressing. When you are going through the journey with other people, you have a solid sense of community.

Also, another set (or 10) of eyes can make a project better. You might think your story is fantastic on its own, but one comment from a friend can take your story from great to fan-freaking-tastic.

You also learn more when you have other people involved. I can honestly say that every time I receive feedback on my writing I learn something. The lesson is not always profound or life-altering, but it is still a learning experience.

Giveaway challenge: How have you benefited from being part of a writing community? 

Answer in the comments below to be entered to win this week's Twelve Days of Writing drawing. Be sure to check back Friday at 2 p.m. CDT to see if you are this week's winner. Read about the contest and what prizes you can win here. This week's winner will receive the Top Chef cookbook and recipe kit.


  1. I usually like being alone to write and my first writing community experience was through NaNoWriMo. I've enjoyed knowing others who are serious about writing as I am and the support we have given each other. I had moments where I didn't know if I would hit 50,000 words but knowing there were others who were working hard to do it too was great motivation. While I enjoy the solitary part of writing, building a community has its benefits.

  2. As it had been *years* since I'd written something for myself instead of an employer or professor, getting a writing group together for NaNo really helped motivate me and keep me accountable. Especially in the homestretch when I was 40k behind. Got 'er done though :)