Writing can be a lonely practice. However, no one said a writer’s path has to be lonely. At the PWC, writing communities converge on that evil army of minions who feed on our insecurities. Doubt, criticism, and rejection try to defeat us as individuals. With other writers who’ve got your 6 and flank to your left and right, there’s no way you’ll go down. The following writers share insight on how to build and strengthen the writing community. Enjoy.
I recognized early in my writing life that associating with other writers was crucial in many ways. Attending groups improved my attitude and productivity, provided feedback, access to training, and more. I concluded that participation in writing groups is a minimum requirement to live a writer’s life. After showing up at meetings for a while, I realized that writing groups need volunteers to keep them going. By contributing to writing groups, I realized I was adding value not just to myself and fellow writers, but to the entire community. In addition to volunteering in groups, I also promote the writing community by touting other writers, and supporting them in their efforts to reach readers.
– Jerry Waxler @jerrywaxler
To me the first thing is to try to find a way to pull different communities together, or at least make them aware of one another—because there isn’t one writing community. We’re not that organized (seriously, what can you expect from people who sit by themselves in a room and make things up?).
Just locally there are dozens of writing communities. There are communities associated with local bookstores like Big Blue Marble and Main Point Books and Open Book; there are communities built around projects and ‘zines, like the Philadelphia Stories community; and around genres, like the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society; there are communities built around conferences such as PWC, of which there are many of all shapes and sizes; and those that have grown around the Writers’ Coffeehouses that some of the local Liars Club members have helmed for years now. And there’s an inestimable number of small writing workshops—anywhere from two-person “writing buddy” teams who meet at coffeehouses, to dozen-member critique groups. Those communities cross-pollinate to some degree, too; but one way to strengthen the whole is to make the smaller groups aware of each other, aware of available resources…help them connect. And I think one of the goals of PWC each year in drawing upon writers across the spectrum, is to afford individuals the opportunity to network and discover what lies outside their experience.
– Gregory Frost @gregory_frost
I can’t imagine being on the outside of the writing community. I’d be pretty sad. My confidence would collapse, and my dreams would probably drive themselves off a cliff. Can’t afford that, so I make it a point to contribute as much of my time and effort as I can to support other writers. Writing groups are helpful, and people shouldn’t join one just for networking purposes. Offering constructive feedback to fellow writers helps each members’ growth process. In addition, online support helps strengthen communities. Goodreads is a great site to show love fellow writers. Retweeting authors within my community is another way I attempt to push wind into the sails.
– Uriah Young @UriahYoung
The best way to strengthen the writing community is to support the efforts of other authors. Just think of what you wish other writers would do for you and do that. Watch for book signings at local libraries and bookstores. Your presence tells the world it’s an event of interest. When you hear about a local author appearing on television or a radio show, spread the word on your social media channels. And when you appear or speak someplace, don’t be reluctant to ask other writers to do the same. Cross promotion is a key function for building a community of writers. Also, don’t just join a nearby writer’s club, attend the meetings and offer to present. Finally, attend conferences like the Philadelphia Writers Conference and the Creatures, Crimes & Creativity Con in MD (www.
– Austin Camacho www.ascamacho.com
There are so many things we can do to strengthen the writing community. We can feature local authors and host book signings at our bookstores and cafes. Networking through Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter is helpful, too. Join local writing and critique groups, and if writers are unable to attend meetings, they can join online critique groups or take writing courses online. Attend workshops in the area to sharpen skills, and network with published authors. Mentor an aspiring writer in the area by sharing markets we submit to, passing on trade magazines and books, and sharing our knowledge and encouragement. Most important, write a letter telling an author how much you enjoyed their book or article. When trying to strengthen the writing community, any of these small gestures could inspire a discouraged person to keep on trying.
– L.A. Strucke @LAStrucke