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It’s an old adage that you can’t do it alone. While you may have the talent to write a book, you can’t make it without an audience. You can’t do it without a community, too.
Writing communities are the lifeblood of a writer. They’re the places where you can have honest conversations with those who are slogging through the same struggles as you. Once your book gets published, they’re the places where you can share the joys. They’re also the places where you can find out what’s happening in your niche.
These are just a few reasons to join and participate in writing communities. Other reasons are as follows:
One of the best ways to not only get in touch with a writing community, but to enrich your writing experience, is to ask questions. When you join a writing forum, your initial instinct will probably be to start off by introducing yourself. This is a polite and welcoming thing to do, but it may not be the most productive way to meet people and get involved with a community. It can also make you feel like an outsider, because you won’t get immediate responses to your questions or comments.
So, after introducing yourself, interact by answering or sharing your experiences on threads you can relate to. Once you’ve socialized a bit, start posting your writing-related questions, like, “How did you deal with writing pitfalls like writer’s block?” and, “What’s the best writing software out there?” These questions will prompt members of the forum to respond and also create threads within the thread around these topics, so you’ll get involved with the community right away.
Do you want to know about book writing contests that you can join? Are you looking for upcoming workshops that will take place near you? Get to know these earning and learning opportunities through writer forums.
Get a sense of who you are as a writer.
The core duty of any writing community is not just to answer questions, but to help you clarify and understand who you are as a writer. Everyone can use help in understanding who they are as writers, whether they’re just starting out or they’ve been at it for 20 years.
To be true to yourself as a writer is to know what your preferences are and what excites you, and not to let anybody else pressure you into changing that. Writing communities teach this kind of resolve. In these groups, you’ll find someone who will get in your face about the things you’re doing or you’ve accomplished. When this happens, you’ll be prompted to either back down or stand up for yourself, for your writing, and for what you believe in.
Keep things from getting overwhelming.
Writing is inherently lonely, and joining a community forces you to communicate with others. Talking to other writers makes you realize you’re not alone. It also helps you develop empathy.
How? Well, in a writing community, you can expect writers to share concerns, ask and answer questions. You may see some of the answers to questions you’re afraid or embarrassed to ask.
You and other writers can also seek and provide advice therein. From here, you’ll find tips on how to get better-paying writing jobs and how to finish difficult tasks. Consequently, you’re less likely to worry about keeping your head above water with bills to pay. If you’re stressed over deadlines, distractions or lack of work, your writing group can serve as your outlet to release your worries.
There are a lot of ups and downs when it comes to writing, and almost everyone who decides to write professionally needs a little support along the way. Having a community of people that you feel you can reach out to is an important resource for keeping your motivation up. You can draw much-needed encouragement from someone who has been in your shoes and faces many of the same struggles. Through personal anecdotes, members of writing communities can illustrate effective ways to overcome writer’s block, writer’s fatigue, or the mental or physical challenges that sometimes prevent us from keeping up with a steady writing schedule.
Be open to new voices and views.
Writing communities tend to grow organically from hobbies to interest groups. That’s how you probably came to begin writing. It’s important now to remain open to new people and experiences.
As you get deeper into the writing community, it will become apparent where your own interests differ from those of others. You can embrace this difference without trying to impose your views on others.
If it’s challenging to be open-minded, remind yourself that you need the perspective of an outsider to help you refine your own work. So get involved in various writing groups and make the most out of differing views and voices.
Have a community that can serve as a writing coach.
Your writing community offers free reign for you to bounce ideas around. They can be an invaluable resource for problems you can’t solve, and a great cheering section for when you’re reveling in a new chapter or a completed section. Your group can also provide guidance on everything from character development and plot threads to a critique on whether your next book might be better served by being self-published or if you should be shopping for an agent.
Not only can they help you with your craft, but community members are also more likely to read, review, and talk about your work—and if they manage to do either of the first two items, they may even end up being a writing coach in the most crucial sense of the word.
Receive feedback faster, on all aspects of your work
Because writing is such a solitary endeavor, there are points when you’ll need the expertise of a few friendly, interested readers outside your family—for instance, when you’re submitting your manuscript. But wouldn’t it be great if you could get that feedback directly and for free, as early as possible in your drafting process? That’s the power of writing communities. Getting feedback whenever you need it and giving feedback to help others is both rewarding and necessary to your success.
Feedback on your work when it’s written in the third person will be different than while you’re still in first person, or while you’re still grappling with the idea itself—so ask others for feedback at different points in your process for a much more concrete evaluation. Truly supportive writing communities will be interested in every aspect of your work.
Ask them if they’d read part or all of your first draft, and you’ll likely get a bunch of eager yeses. Show your community members one piece at a time—maybe a new scene they can see each week as you work on the piece. If you want to go the extra mile to really impress them, make sure your writing community has milestones for novel goals or word counts to make sure you’re still moving forward when you hit your own. And when you do get feedback, continue to ask when it’s really working, or when it’s genuinely a problem they can help fix.
Find a collaborator.
Through writing communities, you may discover writers, editors, publishers, photographers or graphic artists who are looking for a collaborator–you! If you’re the one needing a partner for a writing project, you can also post about it in various writing groups.
A writer who can be your critique partner is among the collaborators you can connect with through writing forums. As critique partners, both of you will go over your works and help pinpoint flaws. Be clear about the extent of your roles though. Make sure you and your partner agree that each of you still has the final say whether or not to amend your works in accordance to critiques you shared.
In case you can’t find a collaborator in a writing group, you can still get some recommendations. You can contact the recommended people afterwards and mention how you came to know them.
Recruit beta readers.
Beta reading is the process of getting feedback on your book from readers. Ideally, you’ll have a few beta readers go over your work and give you feedback before you self-publish or submit your manuscript. If you’re working with an editor or publisher, you’ll likely have to submit a draft that has already been beta read, and bringing along readers can greatly increase your odds of getting published. These readers can help you iron out the plot holes and likability issues, while also letting you know if there are any typos or other errors in the text.
So where can you find these willing readers? Again, you can tap into writing forums to seek writers who are also keen at being beta readers.
Before you send your drafts to beta readers, try to check the reputation of the said volunteers in writing communities. Don’t try to send it to all or as many members as possible either. If you do, you increase the risk of having your draft leaked.
Expand personal and professional networks.
Part of becoming a published author means creating personal and professional writing networks. Some writers build their networks within their local cities or communities, while others connect internationally using the Internet. So even if you’re a beginner and/or in the countryside, you can still establish your network by joining writing communities online.
An ideal writing network is made up of industry professionals such as agents, editors and publishers. It’s also great to have friends and acquaintances who specialize in writing either fiction or nonfiction. However, it’s still good when your network has more professionals in other industries or fields. As you research and write later on, you can refer to them to verify information.
Learn more about self-publishing.
For any authors considering going the self-publishing route, the best way to know if it will be a successful method is to ask an expert you respect, or, even better, a member of a community you are a part of. There are many aspiring authors in the world but there aren’t many book agents and publishers to accommodate everyone. Even so, this shouldn’t be a reason to give up right away. There’s still a chance for you to get published and that is through self-publishing.
Writing communities usually have members who are taking matters into their own hands. Once they’re done with researching and writing, they search for graphic artists, layout artists, proofreaders and editors who will help polish and complete their books. Then, some make deals with bloggers who can publish press releases for the book launch or write reviews later on. Thanks to Amazon and other online marketplace for ebooks, writers can then publish their own books. While they have to go through so many challenges, many self-published authors still share advice to those who are scared or hesitant to venture into self-publishing.
Have a platform for crowdfunding.
With crowdfunding, your writing group becomes a truly collaborative project. Your fellow members don’t just help you with feedback, they also become part of the team.
You can use crowdfunding as a pre-sales method. If you want to create an anthology or an individual story, then crowdfunding makes your book accessible to many more potential readers. This can lead to more sales for you down the road after the book is published.
When done correctly, crowdfunding to fund a book can also give you credibility with industry professionals and potential publishing opportunities. Afterwards, it can boost your rise to fame and success.
Give back to the writing community.
One of the great things about being a writer is that you apply your talents to a whole host of business and life skills. In addition to being able to write compelling prose, you also have the ability to be self-reliant and to persevere through challenges. Moreover, you’re likely to have plenty of other talents that will hold you in good stead over the years.
Whenever you learn a new skill on your writing journey, think about how useful it will be to your readers or to you every day. That will help you decide whether or not to share that information publicly to other people. It’s not in your best interest to be stingy about your knowledge, as other writers in the community are often your first fans and customers.
So with a writing community, you have a platform where you can share your knowledge. You can give back or pay it forward as others have helped you in the past.
Now that you know the benefits of being a part of a writing community, the next step for you is to find and join one. You may consider writing sites like Commaful. You can also look for writers’ groups on Facebook and Reddit. If you attend a writing workshop, whether live or virtual, you can refer to the hosts and participants for info about writing communities. Another option is to start one yourself. You can set up a blog or a Facebook group and moderate the community yourself. Whatever community you join or begin, make sure you participate or create one with the intent to learn and help rather than to self-promote alone.
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