Do I need to join a writer’s community?
One of the biggest things I hear when I meet other writers is about joining a community. People have an idea that writing is a solitary career, but in reality, it is not. It takes a village to write a book and while some people prefer to write on their own, other writers prefer company.
Joining a writing community is entirely up to you.
There are a lot of options, so I’ll walk you through the most common ones and discuss the pros and cons of each. I personally think that joining a writing community can be greatly beneficial, especially if you’re just starting out. Sometimes you get stuck, and having a second opinion can be helpful. Or having a place to share your struggles can be relieving.
No matter your reason for joining a community, I would like you to think about what exactly you want to get out of it.
I first joined a writing community when I was 14. Inkpop had just come around and I was excited to find a place to connect with other writers my age online. I didn’t have a lot of friends in high school, so these Inkies became my bedrock in high school and I still talk to many of them today. Especially when I was first starting out, getting feedback on my work was super helpful in seeing what I could improve on.
Where do I look for a community?
One of the great things about the writing community, is that there is almost always a local group at your local library or there are always friends also working on a story. I would recommend attending at least some of your local meet-up’s to see what they’re working on and to meet more writers locally. My only caveat with in-person groups is that I find a lot of them have older participants who aren’t writing anything close to my genres- science fiction, fantasy, and historical fiction. But they can still be really helpful.
If you don’t have a local group, or don’t like the one near you already, try finding other people in your community who write and start your own group. Ask your friends on Facebook or other social circles to meet with you in person.
You could also try attending conferences, using the site, Meetup, or check out your local university’s English department.
In person communication and feedback
Don’t have to worry about sharing your work online if you’re worried about someone stealing it
Read your work out loud or print out copies
Network with other writers who can be friends and future supporters
Might not be in your age range, so might be harder to communicate
If you’re shy or can’t get there in person, might be hard to attend
Might take a while to find the right group
ONLINE- Writing Websites
If you haven’t already, I would recommend looking at my post comparing popular writer’s online community websites. My post lists the pros, cons, and features of these websites that makes it easy to compare. While I tried to make my post as comprehensive as possible, there are a lot of other websites out there, so I would recommend to keep looking if none of those check out.
I found my community via a now defunct site called Inkpop. Inkpop was geared towards young writers who wanted to be published and took critiques seriously. Other websites do not have the same focus. Some are really serious about critiques like Scribophile and Critique Circle, while others like Figment and Wattpad are not.
At the moment, I would say Wattpad has the biggest following and the most features. It’s great if you want a little bit of everything, although they are not known for getting well detailed critiques. I have had some friends do really well on it though and built a large following through it who they can now rely on as published authors.
Some websites you have to pay to join, others are free. So I would make sure to think about that too. Paying vs not paying isn’t a really big deal to most communities. Like I said, whatever you put in is what you are going to get out of it.
There are tons of different sites out there with lots of different communities and features. Good for trying out different sites.
You can build a large following to later rely on for publishing
You can make a lot of friends and network well with publishers, agents, and editors
You can get good critiques and feedback in your genre
Some of them are really helpful for polishing and further exploring your story
Might have to try out a few before finding the right one
Might not have a copy-and-paste block, having your story stolen is always a concern
Might have to pay a fee to join
Might have to work hard to get a lot out of it
The site can always go defunk on you within three days so don’t rely on it to store your writing- ALWAYS save back ups of your story and your critiques
Twitter is known as a great place for writers. It has a strong community of writers, authors, agents, publishers, and editors. If you want to connect with someone in the industry, Twitter is the place to be. Use hashtags such as #writingcommunity or #writerscommunity to join in and look for amazing events like #pitmad and #storysocial to get the chance to put your story before an agent or publisher or to discuss writing with other writers.
I’ve gotten to connect with a lot of other people in the industry through Twitter and I think it’s a great opportunity to learn from other writers, share your ideas, find out events and information, and to even have the chance to get published.
The Twitter Writing community though also is known to be a firestorm. There are a lot of strong opinions share and a lot of drama. So be aware and don’t let your self be sucked into anything. Remember Twitter is usually public and it’s easy to say something you’d regret.
A strong industry community
Easy to make connections, share your ideas, and learn from others
Has great events to get published or have your work looked by editors and agents
Follow your favorite authors and they might follow you back!
Follow not well known writers and connect with them as well
Easy to join in on conversations
A wonderful place to stay in the know
Everything happens in the moment
Easy to get sucked into drama
Can’t share your work directly
Have a limited amount of space to talk per tweet
Easy to miss conversations and events
Might be hard to get seen among the mass
Currently, my main community is on Facebook Groups. When Inkpop got suddenly shut down, a lot of us went over to Facebook and continue to interact. Facebook has a lot of groups aimed towards writers so it’s easy to search and find others.
My friends and I are on other sites but we commonly meet up via Facebook and use that to discuss with each other and share our writing. Like Twitter, there isn’t a direct way to share your whole story, so you might have to share via Google Docs or make use of notes if you want feedback on something other than a snippet.
Facebook has a lot of problems recently with misusing users data. So if you’ve sworn off Facebook for that or any other reason, this might not be the best option for you. Like with any site online, you have to be careful what you share and be mindful there is always risks.
Easy to find a group
Easy to communicate with each other and use all the features of Facebook
Great for specific communities if you’re looking for a specific genre or location
Can make groups public or private
Lots of people have Facebook and can access it easily
Facebook has a history of misusing user information
Not everyone has Facebook
Might feel weird about using your own personal profile with strangers
Annoying to delete profile
There isn’t any easy way to share your story directly except maybe using notes or posting sections at a time
I imagine the earliest writing communities online started out as forums and a lot of them still exist. You can check out the subreddits for writing or just search for writing community forums.
Forums are really great because you’ll find them on almost every writing site out there. They are popular because it’s so easy to have discussions and organize them by topics.
But forums can also be seen as old-fashioned and unless it’s on a site like Reddit or a writing community with a forum feature built in, the forums you find might be ghost towns.
I made a lot of my friends online through talking with them on the discussion threads on Inkpop. Honestly, I didn’t even do a lot of writing, I just mostly talked to people on the forums. I was shy in high school and having a forum was the perfect format for me to talk to people.
Easy to find online by themselves
Easy to find different topics and people to talk to through them
Makes it easier to control what information you share
Great for connecting with other writers and learning from each other
Might not have a story sharing feature
Unless it’s already on a big website, the forums might be ghost towns
Not always sure who exactly you’re talking to
Might be hard to privately talk to specific people
Rarely a copy-paste block
Tumblr recently shot themselves in the foot when they banned all sexual content due to an awkward amount of porn popping up on the site. A LOT of users stopped using the platform so we’ll see how they’ll recover from it.
Regardless, Tumblr has some really great writing blogs on there and due to it easy to follow blogs and share content, it makes it a great spot for writers to share their work and connect with other writers. I also love that it’s easy to customize your “tumblr blog” for free or paid themes.
Easy to share not only your writing, but content related to it
Easy to customize your personal blog site
Has a decent community dedicated to writing
Easy to find and follow other writers
No copy-paste block
Can’t post any explicit content
Can’t make multiple blogs under the same account, although you can make sub-blogs but they’re not the same
No one spot for writers, have to go out and find others
ONLINE (CREATIVE IDEAS)
Goodreads has a large writing community surrounding it! Check out their forums and other places to connect with writers. You can even share your writing there.
Writing Blogs- Check out the comment section on blogs dedicated towards writers. Bloggers LOVE it when you comment on their blogs and you can learn a lot from those sites. Be wary of linking to your stuff as it can see as self-serving without the right intentions.
Pinterest- Pinterest has a LOT of helpful pins on their site dedicated to writers and lot of popular writing websites and authors have a Pinterest. You can make your own boards dedicated to your stories although no way to share your story directly.
Check out websites and magazines like Writer’s Digest and Poets and Editors or Publisher’s Weekly for more places and ways to connect with other writers.
The main idea behind this post is that there are a ton of ways to connect with other writers. If you don’t like one community, find another until something fits! Writing doesn’t have to be a solitary passion, so don’t be afraid to reach out to other writers to learn from them and get feedback on your stories. You never know who or what you’ll discover.