Like most writers, my writing comes in waves. Some days I am riding a high, soaring over the water, and then I get dragged beneath the waves, crushed by the scope of my novel and feeling like I am going nowhere. When my productivity low tide hits, I help others for motivation. Rooting for others or troubleshooting for them gives me a sense of accomplishment and the strength to keep going. I look at their work, sing their praises, and cheer them through tough times. Nothing is more rewarding.
The upside of being motivated by helping others is that I have a wonderful community. Through a bit of luck and a lot of effort and time, I have built a support system that keeps me going. However, I remember those daunting days when I walked into my first writer group meetings or tried engaging on social media for the first time. I was terrified and felt like a poser. The people around me talked about things I had never heard of. I was boggled by how little I knew about the business of writing. That was only two years ago and taking stock as I write this post, I am proud of how much I have learned. However, I want to help those who are struggling to find their way and don’t know how to get started.
Finding a community
Libraries: Writers should read, and if they are anything like me, they can’t afford to buy every book on their To-Be-Read list so a library can be a great way to find them. Libraries host a variety of events and if your local libraries aren’t hosting a writers meeting you can always start one. Also, consider joining a book club for your genre. It can help you read regularly, and you will get to know your audience first hand. Who knows, some people in the group may be willing to beta read for you later.
Local Bookstores: Barnes & Noble and independent bookstores are a great resource for local authors. Many host local writers’ groups. If yours doesn’t, they usually have book signings for local authors. Go and say hi. Talk to the author. They will be thrilled you stopped by. Connect with them and see if they know the local writing community.
Meetup.com: This site is geared toward connecting like-minded people getting together in person. I have found several local writers’ groups in my area through Meetup.
NaNoWriMo: Writing 50,000 words in a month isn’t for everyone. However, there is a great community behind NaNoWriMo, and it is a simple way to find local writers. Even if you don’t believe you can get the word count in, NaNoWriMo may be worth checking out to find a local or online writer community.
Facebook: There are numerous Facebook writer groups. Join several and participate. Engage with other writers. You will find some groups that work for you and some that don’t. Be sure to seek out groups that are genre specific as well as general groups. The Writers’ Coffeehouse started by Jonathon Mayberry is a wonderful general community. You can also check out book clubs on Facebook and discover more about your audience.
Twitter: Twitter chats and events are great icebreakers to start the conversation. A Twitter chat is a group of people engaging on Twitter at a designated time. The host typically asks questions and the participants respond. To participate search on the hashtag at the designated time and have the results set to “Most Recent Tweets” so you can follow along. Remember don’t just answer the questions. Respond to other people’s answers. Chat with them. If you see a person who seems like your people, follow them and engage with their tweets after the chat.
Twitter events like #PitchWars, #RevPit, #PitMad, and #DivPit are great opportunities if you have a completed manuscript. I am not quite there, although I am working hard to have a completed manuscript by the end of the year. However, I have used these events to find out more about the writing community and to engage with other authors. Make sure to check out any event you can, even when they aren’t a good fit or they already ended. Writers who are participating may talk about other events or a new event could spin off from the original one. For instance, #CPMatch, an event to help pair off critique partners, spun off of PitchWars.
Blog Hops: Blog hops are another way to engage with a group of people on a regular basis. Since you already share a common interest in the topic of the hop, you already have an opening to start getting to know each other.
Writer Organizations: Find a genre-specific organization, join it, and engage. Go through the group’s site and find how people are interacting. Often there will be a Facebook group, but there may also be in-person events or forums.
Remember forming online relationships is just like forming relationships in person. You get what you put into it. If you aren’t interested in the other person and their work, they will never be interested in you. If you actively engage and have a genuine interest in others, you will find a community that is perfect for you.
Created by Alex J. Cavanaugh, the IWSG’s purpose is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
To join, simply sign up by clicking on the button below and adding your name to the linky list. Then post the first Wednesday of each month and visit your fellow bloggers to lend your support.
This month’s optional question: “When your writing life is a bit cloudy or filled with rain, what do you do to dig down and keep on writing?”