No writer is an island. Everyone needs some type of encouragement and writers are no exception. To build a supportive community, a variety of connections are needed to serve different purposes. Some are obvious choices, but I’ll start wide and then narrow the field as I go.
Join one or more well established organizations.
When you join an established organization, you instantly become part of that community, benefitting from the wisdom and experience of others. You can also take advantage of all the many perks like contests, educational opportunities, conferences, publications etc. Of course, our own InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship is an obvious example.
It’s okay to be part of more than one organization, because each has its own strengths and flair. In ICWF’s case, we are united by our faith and commitment to ministering to writers. But you may also want to join an organization that focuses on a different commonality. Here are some that come to mind: American Christian Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of America, The Playwright’s Guild, The Word Guild.
Try interacting within genre or goal specific communities.
You can find many online communities that are less structured, most of which do not charge admission. Sometimes these are offshoots of courses, webinars, or podcasts lead by a person or a company. These groups usually centre on a specific genre or are quite goal oriented. They can be valuable places to learn, discuss specific topics and make long lasting connections. The dynamics of these groups tend to fluctuate depending on availability and engagement, but I have made some wonderful writerly contacts through such groups, even after the group itself folded.
Join a small local or online writing group.
There is something special about getting together with the same small group of people over a period of time. These can be genre based, but often contain a variety of writers – journalists, fiction writers, writers of memoir, poets… The location and need for personal encouragement are the things that bring them together and deep friendships are forged as writing is shared. It’s a place of vulnerability and trust.
Obviously, there are different types of writing groups with different purposes. Some are for encouragement more than critique – a place for writers to share in a safe and non-critical environment. Writing groups also spark ideas. Listening to what others have written is inspiring. Some groups include freefall sessions while others share from polished writing. The latter function as a critique group where participants offer constructive feedback. Some groups even work on a collective project with the goal of publishing and marketing it together.
Some people don’t have the opportunity of meeting in a physical group, however – especially in these days of physical distancing. Online groups can function in a very similar way using technology. In either of case, keeping it small to maintain the personal feel is important. Once the group grows beyond a certain size, it might be time to split into more than one segment.
Seek out an accountability partner.
Depending on the tightness of your writing group, you may not need or want this last suggestion, but being accountable to someone is an important piece of the support infrastructure, even if this person is not a writer. It helps to have someone that you can ‘report’ to, especially if you are working on a specific project or have deadlines. At InScribe, we’ve been experimenting with ‘Writing Buddies’ for a few years now and will be announcing a ‘revamp’ of the current system sometime in the future.
Next time I will be talking about developing support teams. Until then, God bless!
Tracy Krauss, current ICWF President, has more than 20 books and plays in print and has successfully launched several titles onto Amazon’s best seller lists for sustainable periods of time. She has taught seminars using this model and hopes that what little insight she has gained can be used by others. Website:tracykrauss.com