You may be under the impression that writing is a lonely, solitary career that only takes place inside a locked room. Not to be rude but, YOU’RE WRONG. If you are the only person involved in your writing career, there’s a very good chance that you’re going to fail. Just saying. You’re at least going to struggle a lot. And why is this?
Well, if you’re trying to get something published, it means that you want other people to read it. Well duh. And if you want other people to read it, it means they’re going to have to like it. And? And it means that you’re not going to know if other people like your writing unless you show it to them. Preferably before you go through the hassle of getting it published. Wouldn’t that just be the absolute worst way to find out that no one likes your story?
Now, If you’re writing for yourself and yourself alone and have no intention of every publishing, I guess this doesn’t really apply to you. But, most likely you do want to publish stuff.
Having a writing community is a HUGE asset is SO many ways.
Obviously, as I said above, you can get good feedback. A writing community can also hold you accountable, keep you on task, point out plot holes, help you solve problems. But how do I know if the people giving me feedback are actually giving me helpful feedback? Who should even be in a writing community? Well, a variety of people.
First of all, other writers. Obviously. (Please tell me you read that in Snape’s voice.) They don’t have to write stuff in the same genre as you; the majority of writing rules and techniques are the same across all fiction genres. But if you’re in a group with other writers, it can’t be a one sided relationship. You have to help them too, even if you’re just listening to them explain a problem.
You also want to have people who care for and want nothing more than your success. Even if they give totally biased feedback, (“It’s the best book I’ve ever read!” “It’s the first draft.” Having upbeat people to encourage you can be SO helpful.
But you can’t have a lot of people like that . You HAVE to have people who are going to tell you, “This is too confusing,” “This character needs to be axed,” “This character is totally unnecessary.” These people are like gold. Hoard them.
This is great and all, but how do I find these people? First, get your family and friends. And if you feel like you need some more unbiased help, send out and email. My friend Atlas Easton did this when we were forming our writing group, Containing Words and Weirdos, and we had SO many people respond. Look up writing groups in your area. You may not need to form a group, you can just join one. And another resource for supporters is one that I just tapped into, Wattpad. There’s so many people on there who want to support new writers and love to read.
And now that I’ve mention Containing Words and Weirdos, I really have to go into more depth.
When I was working on a film project with some friends, (We made a legit movie. I’m still in shock. You can read about it here.) I discovered that our lead actress had written four novels. Naturally, I was intrigued. Fast forward a few months into October, on Friday the 13th, and we were having our first meeting. It turned out that the majority of people who attended that night had been wanting a group just like this for ages. We’ve been going for a year and eight months now, and have a membership of about twenty people.
I can’t even begin to describe how amazing everyone there is. We’re in constant contact with each other through Google Hangouts and have a CWW Google Account that anyone can log into to read each other’s stories and give feedback. It’s without a doubt the best thing that has ever happened in my writing career, and one of the best things to happen to my social life as well.
But don’t take just my word for it, the other member’s think it’s pretty great as well:
From Atlas Easton, CWW co-founder: I have no hesitation in saying that joining a club or group is a must-have resource for a successful writing career. When I first began my writing journey at 13, I felt detached and alienated in my hobby. Starting CWW has to this day been one of the best things I’ve done for my personal growth in the craft. Every moment I write, I know that there are writers my age who also feel those priceless moments of giddiness over a scene, who toil for hours on end editing a chapter, who have my back if I need help or encouragement. I, and all the rest in this group, have a dozen or more beta readers, support members, and critique partners at our fingertips. The members in my club have become some of my greatest friends and I’ve never once looked back.
From E. M. Hardy, CWW member: Since childhood, writing has been a passion of mine. I’d write the silliest stories imaginable, but what else could be expected of a child? As I grew older, I had higher level writing classes. Those classes helped me cultivate my writing in ways I don’t think I would have discovered on my own. If a writing class could be that helpful, imagine what a writing club could do! I know for a fact that even within the year or so that I have been a member of CWW, my writing skills have sky-rocketed. The topics that the club has covered have helped me on my writing journey. We have covered topics such as how to write a thriller, realistic fight scenes, how to overcome writers block, and so much more. Although these are helpful topics to know and understand, they are topics that I could have researched alone. The most helpful thing a writer can get is an exclusive writing club item. This so-called item would be the gift of group discussion. Anytime I have run into a problem with one of my stories, such as a plot hole, naming characters or working on their backstory, the history of my world, bringing the problem to CWW has helped me overcome the issue. Bringing a problem to a different person is helpful because the other person always has a different perspective. In writing, that different viewpoint may be the missing link between sense and complete chaos. I would highly recommend joining a writing club to anybody, regardless of skill level. It doesn’t matter if you’re a professional writer, or you’re working on your first ever story. Everyone starts somewhere, right?