The Top Three Reasons Authors Need a Writing Community

Written by A Guest Author

By Kathryn Haueisen

“The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.” – Coretta Scott King

Writing by committee is sheer torture for me. Leave me alone until I’ve written what’s been swirling around in my mind, keeping me awake by night and leading me to ignore real people because fictional characters are chattering away in my head.

But after we’ve written something, we need a writing community for three reasons.

First: It is impossible to be objective about our own work. We might, most likely incorrectly, conclude this is the best bit of word-smithing since Ernest Hemingway or J. K. Rowling. Or, just as inaccurately, think this is the worse combination of words ever written. To get a realistic assessment of what we’ve produced, we need to participate in writing communities populated with supportive authors and readers we meet in person or on-line. These writing communities can give us some honest and helpful feedback.

Honest in that they won’t say “Wow, this is really GREAT,” when it really isn’t. But the feedback also needs to be helpful to be useful. What doesn’t seem right about it? Not enough detail? Too much information? Because reading preferences are highly subjective, a writing community needs to include a variety of personality types. One person’s opinion is just that the opinion of one person. But the feedback of several people in a writing community can help us see where we’re missing the mark so we can redirect our efforts.

Second: The effort to publish what we write gets pretty discouraging as the “no thanks” responses pile up. Or worse, we keep pitching ideas but potential markets simply do not respond. At all. Even though we carefully read and adhered to their submission guidelines. This is where the writing community steps in with tea or something stronger and sympathy. I recently posted something about a writing setback and was surprised how many authors and readers chimed in to encourage me to keep writing. Their encouraging words turned a dismal day into a much better one.

Third: We never outgrow our need to learn. Writing community members know things we need to learn. If they’re serious authors, they’re reading up on the craft of writing and attending workshops, webinars and courses they can recommend to us. Plus, they can introduce us to people we need to know such as editors, agents, publishers, publicists, and podcasters.

Anyone with paper and pen or a computer and power outlet can write. Becoming a successful writer requires a community.

I’ve found my writing community in a variety of places.

  • Critique groups, which I located through on-line searches for writing groups. Not all critique groups fit all authors; but even the ones that didn’t work out as a critique group, introduced me to a handful of authors who have become part of my writing community.
  • Workshops. People who attend writing workshops also love to write – and publish. I’ve added a couple of folks to my writing community this way. At one of them I met and soon hired a millennial to help me do research for my historical fiction. She managed to finagle introductions to people in places I would never have even considered approaching.

  • Writer’s conferences. When I was preparing to launch my first novel, I attended a writer’s conference where I met the woman who introduced me to the publicist who helps her launch her books. This publicist not only helped me launch my book, she continues to introduce me to other key people in the writing, publishing and promoting world. She now pays me to help her promote some of her other clients. She recently made the connection for me to attend the Houston Public Library Foundation red-carpet gala. At that event I met the producer of a local radio program. He asked for my business card and invited me to contact him about being a guest on his show.
  • Mutual friends. The woman who helps me manage my website has other author clients. Thanks to her, some of us are now encouraging each other via Facebook and private e-mail exchanges while promoting one another’s work.
  • Writer socials. The last time I attended a monthly social I was fifty percent of those in attendance. The result? An invitation to promote my books on the website the other person manages for a local author group.

As much I cherish my quiet writing time alone, none of these connections came from that solitude. Rather, they are the result of getting out to meet other authors and participate in a community where we extend compassion, hope, and inspiration to one another. Writing communities encourage us to keep growing and going.


Kathryn Haueisen worked in public relations before launching a freelance writing career. She’s published dozens of articles and five books. Her forthcoming historical fiction will be released by Green Writers Press in 2020. She blogs about people doing their part to improve our global village at www.HowWiseThen.com.

 

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