Do You Need a Writing Community?
While the life of a writer has its perks, it can get pretty darn lonely. Even social butterflies in “real life” can find themselves drifting in a sea of loneliness when it comes to their writing life. Do any of these scenarios ring a bell?
- As you gush over your ingenious solution to the gaping plot hole in your novel, your friends’ eyes slowly glaze over.
- After your lengthy analysis of the pros and cons of indie vs. traditional publishing, your mother glances up from her tablet and asks, “What, dear?”
- Your spouse/boyfriend/roommate walks in on you acting out the dialogue in your latest scene and looks at you like you have officially. Lost. Your. Mind.
Yep…I’ve been there. And so, probably, have you. And if most of your friends and family don’t get it, then take heart—almost every other writer out there is in the same boat. But we can’t judge the non-writers (the poor things!) in our lives too harshly. Just as I don’t know the ins and outs of being a race car driver or a neurobiologist, most people don’t know what it’s like to be a writer, nor do they share our passion for all things writing.
And that’s where writing communities come in. Not only do they offer practical benefits that can jumpstart your career, but writing communities can also nurture your writer’s soul. Because the only people who can understand your passion for the writer life (and all of its joys and heartaches) are other writers.
And when you find a good writing community—the one that just clicks for you—it is worth its weight in gold!
The Benefits of a Writing Community
Writing communities serve many purposes, and finding the right one for you will depend on your needs as a writer. Some of the benefits they may offer are:
- Support and encouragement from other writers
- Classes and training to help you learn the craft
- Opportunities to promote your work on fellow members’ platforms (and to promote their work on yours)
- A pool of trusted and knowledgeable writer-friends to recruit beta readers from
- Opportunities to network with literary agencies and publishing houses
- Critique groups
- And so much more!
Over the past four years, I’ve tried out more writing communities than I can shake a stick at. So, based on my own experiences, here are the best writing communities I’ve discovered.
Of the many writing communities I’ve joined, hope*writers is the one that feels like home. This group boasts members from every stage of the writing journey and every walk of life, but nowhere else will you find a more positive or supportive group of human beings!
More than just a writing community, hope*writers is an organization that encourages and teaches writers every step of the way as they grow in their craft, establish a platform, and pursue publication (whether it’s traditional or indie). The website includes a vast library of articles and videos to guide you step by step through each stage of the journey from hopeful newbie to paid writer.
Hope*writers also runs a private Facebook group for members (3600 and counting!), and these writers are by far the most generous, encouraging, and knowledgeable group of people I’ve ever known. Does the thought of jumping into such a large community send your introverted heart into panic mode? Take a nice, deep breath, because hope*writers also offers dozens of smaller communities called hope*circles, which are designed to help members establish closer connections as they focus on a specific topic or goal, such as writing a memoir or setting up a blog.
Another feather in the hope*writers cap is their tuesday*teachings. These weekly, hour-long video chats feature guests from every corner of the writing world: published authors, literary agents, editors, social media experts, etc. Just in the last few months alone, we’ve enjoyed talks with guests such as Robin Jones Gunn, Jeff Goins, and Beth Moore.
Y’all! Beth. Moore.
While the majority of members are Christian women who write inspirational nonfiction, hope*writers is open to writers of any faith or genre. The number of fiction writers has grown by leaps and bounds this year, and more and more men are joining the group, as well.
Membership runs $47 a month or $479 per year. That’s just over $1 a day! So mosey on over to hope*writers and check it out for yourself. While you’re there, be sure to take the free hope*writer path quiz to help you identify what stage you’re in, read member stories, and check out their fabulous blog. But if you decide hope*writers is right for you, then don’t dilly-dally! Membership is only open a few times a year, and the next window is September 14-18. Yes, as in next week!
I hope you’ll jump on board…you will not regret it! The guidance, education, and inspiration I get from the website and tuesday*teachings combined with the unfailing support and encouragement from the Facebook group have made all the difference in my writing career!
SavvyAuthors is a fairly active online community of writers in all genres. This comprehensive platform offers a blog with hundreds of posts about writing and publishing, an online forum where you can connect with other writers in your genre, and a full schedule of very affordable online classes covering every part of the writing process imaginable.
One unique perk SavvyAuthors offers is their online Pitchfest, which occurs just a few times a year. During PitchFest, members are given the opportunity to pitch their novel to editors and agents from several publishing houses and literary agencies, which is pretty exciting!
A free membership includes access to many parts of the SavvyAuthors platform (including PitchFest!) and may be sufficient for those just starting out. However, the paid membership is just $40/year and offers access to all of the site’s benefits as well as discounts on classes.
The forum on Savvy Authors isn’t nearly as active as some of the others in this list, so if you’re a social butterfly, then you may find that feature disappointing. But I believe the other benefits SavvyAuthors offers make the site a worthwhile stop for many writers.
If you write fiction for teens, then Underlined (formerly known as Get Underlined) may be just what you’ve been looking for!
Underlined is owned by Penguin-Random House, so the website naturally includes a lot of marketing for the publisher’s own authors and new releases. However, you’ll also find lots of fun “perks” from the publisher as well as a plethora of educational articles and videos on everything from character development to cover design.
The reason Underlined makes this list, however, is because of their writing community. Once you join (it’s free), you have access to your private dashboard, which I consider a sort of “starter platform” for new writers. Here, you can create a profile, “follow” other writers (and they can follow you), submit samples of your writing for feedback, post articles, and read and critique other members’ writing.
While the site doesn’t offer a fully interactive forum, you can connect with other members by posting your own work, giving feedback on others’ submissions, and commenting on blog posts.
The site is beautifully designed and contains a ton of information (serious rabbit trails here!). If the avalanche of PRH marketing doesn’t bother you, then this writing community might be the perfect fit!
Critique Circle bills itself as “a place for writers to give and receive feedback on their work, and thereby learn from one another.” Membership is free and includes access to the online forum, a name generator, an outlining workshop, and a blog with helpful writing advice (though I’m certainly not suggesting you click away from this blog and its helpful writing advice ).
Critique Circle is open to writers of all genres. While the focus of the group is on critiques (both giving and receiving), Critique Circle can also be a place for you to learn more about writing and establish friendships with other writers around the globe. Definitely worth a look!
If sweet romances are your jam, then this thriving Facebook group for romance writers just might be your writing soulmate.
The group is run by four indie sweet romance authors (the OG “writing gals”), but they welcome writers of other genres, as well. With 12,000 members, the group is quite active, and there’s always someone around to answer your questions, offer advice, or provide moral support when you’re on the verge of a plot-induced meltdown (because, y’know, plot happens).
The Writing Gals also run a Facebook group called The Writing Gals Critique Group, where you can submit your work for critique and help. I haven’t checked that one out, but based on the feel of the main group, I’m sure the critique group is just as helpful and welcoming.
Run by the writers of the Absolute Write blog, Absolute Write Water Cooler is strictly an online writing forum. While the interface is completely old-school, it isn’t the way a forum looks that makes it worthwhile…it’s the people. And the people within the Absolute Write Water Cooler community have been, in my experience, very welcoming.
The forum is fairly active but not so much that it would be hard to keep up with the threads you follow. On Absolute Write Water Cooler, there’s a forum for every genre imaginable, so you’ll easily find a community of other writers with the same writing interests.
Every October (aka Preptober), writers around the country begin preparing themselves—physically, mentally, and emotionally—for NaNoWriMo. While it sounds all quaint and quirky, this unassuming nickname belies the reality of the grueling writing marathon—officially known as National Novel Writing Month—for which writers pledge to write 50,000 words in the month of November.
Yes, 50k in 30 days!
Those familiar with NaNoWriMo may be thinking it doesn’t belong on a list of writing communities, and ordinarily I would agree. While NaNoWriMo does offer a “buddies” feature, local meetup groups (which are officially benched this year thanks to COVID), and a mildly active forum, I never really got much sense of community from NaNoWriMo.
So I decided to create my own. Yep, that’s how I roll.
If you’re eager to tackle NaNoWriMo this November, then head over to the Work in Progress NaNoWriMo Group on Facebook and click “Join Now” to fill out the application to join. (Don’t worry, it’s very brief and all writers are welcome! The application just helps me weed out the inevitable random catfish.)
On the Facebook group, you’ll find writing tips, heaps of encouragement, and an active community of other NaNo participants just as
crazy ambitious as you! This writing group will run from now through the end of November…and perhaps beyond.
So jump on over to Facebook and sign up for the Work in Progress NaNoWriMo Group today.
No, now. Now is better.
Do I Have to Pick Just One?
Not at all! And, in fact, I encourage you to try out all of these communities for yourself then stick with the two or three that fit your needs best. Just be careful not to stretch yourself too thin. While being part of an active writing community is hugely beneficial for writers, it can easily distract you from your writing. So jump in with both feet and make some new friends…but keep your eyes on the prize (your novel).
Penny for your thoughts…
What are you looking for in a writing community? Have you already found one that feels like home? Let me know in the comments below.
I’m taking next week off from the blog to celebrate my son’s homecoming (yay! – he’s been away with the Air Force for 5 years), but I’ll be back the following week to share my picks for the top five writing software programs (including some that are free!). Until then, buckle up, buttercup, and let’s write!
In case you missed it: Last week on the blog, I shared how to show rather than tell in How to Master Show, Don’t Tell. If you missed it, click on over and give it a read.