Finding a Writing Community

This is a guest blog by Brenda Gates Spielman.

Writing is usually seen as solitary profession, but while most writing is done alone, writers do tend to like to congregate to discuss their work, agents, editors, publishers and misbehaving characters. (Yes, characters do sometimes refuse to follow the storyline; one of my protagonists was completely uninterested in the character who was supposed to be his love interest, reducing her to a mere bit player role.)

There are many writers’ groups, from those that require only an interest in writing for joining, to professional organizations which have stringent membership requirements. And most of them have some sort of internet presence.

For a not-yet-published author there is a vast array of online options. One of my favorites is National Novel Writing Month (nanowrimo.org) and it’s associated virtual writing retreat, Camp Nanowrimo (campnanowrimo.org). The Nanowrimo community gathers virtually in November to write a novel in one month. Interaction is via forums, and you can find threads on anything from finding an agent to naming a character. The goal is to write 50,000 words, and there are ‘rewards’ (in the form of badges on your home page) for making various deadlines. So far, I’ve participated three years, and my total word count for all three years doesn’t add up to 50,000, but I will keep trying. Camp Nanowrimo, the virtual writing retreat works better for me, you set your own goals and you are organized into cabins. Over three years participating, I’ve become part of a consistent group spread over three countries, and had my first ‘win’ this spring. The cabin concept really works; it helps to have people cheering you on when you update your word count. It may take two or three tries before you land in the right cabin, but it is worth it to keep trying. (Nanowrimo is a non-profit, and will ask you to donate, but it is not required.)

LinkedIn is another good resource for writing groups; not matter what your interest, you are likely to find a group organized around it, whether general writing or eBook specific or marketing your book, and people willing to share their opinions, experiences and advice. Of course, you have to be careful, not all advice is good advice—it amazes me how much misinformation is out there about copyrights—but it isn’t too hard to shift through and find the golden nuggets. And there are a lot of nuggets.

There are also so many individual web sites with their own domain name, devoted to helping new writers that Writer’s Digest publishes a list of the 100 best writers’ sites. Not all of them have associated communities, but many do.

So even if you are sitting alone in a garret working on you masterpiece, your writing community is only a few clicks away, offering support, advice, and just company. Of course, it should all come with a warning—easy to procrastinate without guilt—after all, you are writing and talking about writing, so you are really working on your writing, aren’t you. Well, no, working on writing means increasing word count; so, as with most good things, for the health of your writing use in moderation.

Written by Brenda Gates Spielman

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