I’m past the midway point of National Novel Writing Month, and wouldn’t be here without my community of writers. In my fortunate case, it’s fellow members of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association, and the subset of those who are doing the wild writing marathon of #NaNoWriMo, wherein you write 50,000 words of a new novel in 30 days. Crazy, huh? Yet more than 300,000 people every year are now participating. How many get to the end with 50K words? I’m willing to bet a large percentage are writers working in some kind of community. For mutual support and encoureagement along the lonely writing path, there’s nothing like a #NaNoWriMo group.
Joining a writing group means opening up about your process, and for introverted writer types, that can be scary. My impression was that writers were all competing with each other, so when I first joined WFWA, saying anything on any topic felt fraught with the risk of humiliating myself. I felt these were all such accomplished, published novelists (at the time I wasn’t published), and how dare I comment or even broach a subject.
After more than a year, and having done #NaNoWriMo now twice with a community of supportive writers, I stopped being shy. I began to interact and make friends, and the net result is an improvement to my writing and confidence, and the feeling that writing in a community, I can tackle anything! Also, publishing in a community is extraordinary. So many authors sharing tips and ideas and resources!
Tips & Resources for Finding a Writer Group
Here’s a great article full of resources and links from The Write Life. I found my main group through Facebook, but there are many places and types of groups: critique groups, beta readers, general writing and publishing groups, reading groups. Join even just one more person, and you’ve formed your own group. My in-person weekly group is called The Renaissance Club, after my debut novel.
And for you readers who are always hunting for new and great books? Pick a category you like reading, and find the associations, clubs, and groups of writers in that category, and you’ll find books to read. There’s a way we have of influencing and aiding each other in the writing process, sharing writing tips, craft tips, and publishing tips, that begins to improve everyone’s work. It’s a kind of community magic, and I’ve seen it at work over the years. So join, read from writers who belong to groups, and expand your literary horizons!
Do you have a favorite writing group, conference, retreat center, or workshop you’d recommend? I’m interested to hear about your experience of writing in a community.