Why Every Writer Needs a Writing Community
(and how to join one!)
by NYT & USAT bestseller Shoshanna Evers writing as Shoshanna Gabriel
New and aspiring authors often ask me what I suggest to help them move their writing career forward. Of course, the book comes first. Writers must write. You won’t get anywhere unless you have a book. But the *second* thing out of my mouth is always: “Join a local writing group!“ Even if there’s not one nearby, even if you have to drive an hour to get there once a month, it’s worth it.
Having a community of authors you can meet with and talk to is invaluable, because for us writers, our “normal“ friends aren’t really interested in hearing about a three act structure, or whether or not your hero should have the same first initial as the villain. We need other writers for that.
Don’t make the mistake of assuming all writing groups are just writing *critique* groups, where people pass around pages and offer suggestions. Yes, some groups do that occasionally, and yes, there are groups that exist entirely for that, but that’s not something I ever partake in myself (I prefer one-on-one with beta readers and editors to round-table discussions when it comes to revisions). Writing communities are for *so much more* than that!
If you write romance, I highly recommend Romance Writers of America. They have local chapters all over in America and online chapters as well. For example, I am a member of RWA as well as my local chapter, and since I have moved all around the country over the years, I have been a member of several local chapters. It’s a way of really getting to know people who write in your genre. There’s also SFWA, for science fiction writers. There are more, of course. I’m also a member of ACFW, American Christian Fiction Writers. Just do a search! There’s also NINC, for indie authors who have sold a certain threshold of books, and they cover more advanced aspects. (I’m a member, although I haven’t been particularly active.) I hear they have an *amazing* online forum and annual conference.
If you cannot find a local writing group, or *in addition* to a local writing group, there are some wonderful online forums and Facebook groups for authors. Many local groups and forums that exist outside of Facebook also have a FB group or page you can join. You can search your specific genre and sub genre; you can search for where you live in the country or world. You can search for what your interests in learning are about… whether it’s writing craft, marketing, publishing tips, etc. No matter what you want to learn more about, you are bound to find a group online that is the perfect match.
One tip, after you join a group, especially if it’s online: just “lurk” for a while to get a feel for the community expectations and vibe. Search through the various questions that have already been asked, and the answers. Find out if there are a set of rules you must follow. Don’t go in and just pimp your book! If you have a question about writing or publishing, search the group archives before asking it, because you may find that it’s been asked and answered numerous other times. When you’re ready, post a short introduction and let the group know you’re excited to learn from them and to share your own experiences along the way.
You don’t need to reinvent the wheel. You don’t need to make the same mistakes that a more experienced author has already made, if that author is willing to share their trials and what they’ve learned from them. The best thing about authors is that most of us *want* to pay it forward. People guided us along the way throughout our careers, and we genuinely want the chance to do that for others.
Whether you join a writing group online or in real life (or both!), you’re bound to make connections and friendships you’d never be able to make otherwise. And being with other people, who are as excited about writing and indie publishing as you are, is sooo great! If you’re not a member of a writing community already, take the next step and join one. You won’t regret it.