The Importance of a Writing Community, and How to Find One
There’s a hashtag on Twitter. There are Facebook groups, Slack workspaces, and myriads of Discords. There are probably, at this point, daily discussions on social media. There are countless ways to join a writing community, whether it’s strictly virtual, hybrid, or in-person.
And here’s the thing: no matter where you are in your writing journey—a brand-new writer creating your first story, a veteran of the query trenches, or even a multi-published author—there are benefits to joining a community. I’ve been part of the Writing Community (big social media umbrella) since I started querying in late 2014, but it’s really only been in the last year or so that I’ve delved into finding smaller circles of people to connect with. I joined a Slack group with four other YA writers, all of us in various points of our pre-publication journey, in July 2020. I’m in several Discords with other writers of varying genres and age categories, where even if we have different goals and paths, we have a shared thread: writing.
I’ve also tried and, in some ways, succeeded at forming a writing community through Twitter. I just sent a version of my book to a Twitter mutual I’ve never seen in-person. I am trying a new venture on my blog where I interview drafting and querying writers about their journeys, and have connected with people that way. I use the hashtag #WritingCommunity when I want to share my writerly thoughts with more than my followers.
And I’m here today to tell you why I think community is so important. For me, it’s meant feeling less alone in an industry that is at once communal and isolating. Because of friends who are at similar stages in the journey — wrapping up books and embarking upon querying — I’m able to see that rejections are just a common fact of life, something Every. Single. Writer. goes through at some point. I’m able to send my book to other people, whose opinions I trust because I’ve read and adored their work, and receive encouragement that it’s not, in fact, a steaming pile of trash.
In addition, I’ve connected with writers who are further along, who have agents, book deals, and have even published books. Through my work as an interviewer of YA authors, I’ve been able to make friends and acquaintances who show me there’s hope for publication; who can impart wisdom and give me advice for when I reach the next stage (currently that stage is: snagging an agent); and whose books I can buy, read, and delight in.
My friend Sheyla Knigge, a writer whom I met through a Discord, has recently been going on informational interviews to get a foot into the publishing industry. She said one thing she loves about being part of a writing community is that “[you] always have someone to turn to... being able to talk, figure out how things work [from others]. It's very useful.” I think that’s such a brilliant insight, and an aspect we maybe don’t touch on enough: the fact that this industry is, for better or for worse, often predicated on connections.
From the fact that a referral to an agent gets you their attention quicker to the fact that an agent themself can help you navigate the contract waters better, this industry survives and thrives on people knowing people.
There’s this idea in pop culture of the solitary writer, who simply sits in their little office and writes their little stories and sends them off to an editor who publishes them, and the author rarely has to leave their chair. That wasn’t true 10 years ago, and it’s definitely not true now, when social media has exploded and readers expect a level of connectedness with their favorite authors. Having a community of fellow writers and industry professionals who have your back can be the difference between thriving and crashing and burning.
So, today, if you don’t have one already, I’ve got a few suggestions:
- Tweet it out! You can use a hashtag like #WritingCommunity or just say you’re searching for writer friends who have the same interests you do.
- Join the bookish community on Bookstagram, BookTok, or BookTube, and connect with book lovers by talking about your own favorite stories.
- Join a writer’s Patreon and get access to a discord full of other writers.
- Reach out to me on Twitter! I love friends.
It’s so important to have a community. I’m eternally grateful for mine, and can’t wait to celebrate each of our individual wins and setbacks for years to come.
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