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With a Little Help From Our (Writing) Friends: How to Cultivate a Writing Community

Writing is something we do on our own, but finding success requires a supportive writing community. Here's how to find and cultivate that community.

Writing is something we do on our own, but finding success requires a supportive writing community. Having others who understand what we go through, who provide a shoulder to cry on during tough times and who raise a glass with us to celebrate our triumphs, can make all the difference in the world.

My book Writer’s Digest Guide to Magazine Writing was released just last month. Without my close writing friends and critique group, this dream come true would not be a reality. When I struggled with a chapter, doubted my abilities and needed to be held accountable, they were there for me. And they are the first ones who get to celebrate with me.

My Community

Twenty years ago when I started writing, the first thing I did was seek out other writers who lived in my area. I found a group of amazing women writers of all different genres who met every Wednesday evening for three hours. They welcomed me with open arms, shared their knowledge, resources, writing critique and encouragement and they continue to support me today. Because of this group I found my writing voice; I finally understood the horrors of passive voice; I learned about red threads and story structure; and I realized how important it is to have close writing friends you can trust.

I also stay involved in local writing organizations, attend writing events and stay active in the writing community. This way I stay current on what is happening in the industry, and I make fantastic connections, some of which have grown into wonderful friendships. When writing this book, in addition to my Wednesday group, one writing friend helped me create a schedule to make the whole task easier to manage, while other friends provided feedback on chapters. When I felt overwhelmed, they were there to push me to keep going (and I am so glad they did).

How to Connect with Other Writers

Finding others who share your passion for writing isn’t hard, but it takes some effort. One place to start is your local library and bookstores. Look for writing workshops being offered and sign up for them. On the day of the class, arrive a little early and introduce yourself to the other writers and learn more about them. Exchange contact information and follow up. You never know where these connections may lead.

Another great way to get connected is through writing organizations. National groups like SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) and Romance Writers of America have local chapters. Many cities and states also have writing groups. For me, there is the Northern Colorado Writers. It holds monthly meetings, sends out an informative monthly newsletter, hosts an annual conference, and retreat. I’ve noticed the writers who participate in the group’s activities and connect with others, end up being successful.

One of my favorite ways to meet new writers is through conferences like the Writer’s Digest Annual Conference and indieLAB. I keep business cards with me and make a point to introduce myself to those sitting around me at mealtimes and during the sessions. If I want to stay in touch, I give them my business card and I ask for theirs. I have made great connections at conferences that have helped me and continue to help me on my writing journey.

For you introverts out there, I know it can be intimidating to take that first step to talk with someone new, but I encourage you to be brave and give it a try. (You can read more tips on my post, Introverts Guide to Writing Conferences).

Honor Your Writing Community

As with any good relationship, a healthy writing friendship needs to benefit both of you through mutual respect, support and encouragement. This can happen by sharing and critiquing writing, holding each other accountable to a certain writing schedule, and/or meeting once a month to talk “shop.” Good writing friends are there for each other and value their time together.

I am presenting at the new writing event indieLAB in Cincinnati this September (and recently spoke at the Writer's Digest Annual Conference). If you plan to be at indieLAB, find me and say hello. I always enjoy meeting new writers, expanding my community and making new friends.

Happy Writing!

Kerrie

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