The Writing Community by Steph Beth Nickel

Combine the solitary nature of writing plus the restrictions of 2020 and it can take the wind out of our sails. Even introverts who are thankful not to have social obligations hanging over them may find it hard to get their creative gears turning.

But just because our social lives have been severely curtailed doesn’t mean we can’t gather with our fellow writers and get recharged.

How?

Here are seven ideas as to how you can connect with the writing community, ideas that can help keep your creative juices flowing:

Read well-written books of various genres, both fiction and nonfiction.

Inspiration comes in many forms. Often reading a well-written book can motivate us to sit down at our computer or pick up our pen with our own readers in mind. If we’ve been taught a new skill, perhaps we’ll want to teach others the skills we’ve developed. If we’ve chuckled while reading a story, perhaps we’ll want to bring a smile to another’s face. If we’ve drawn closer to God because of something we’ve read … Well, can you imagine how incredible it is that someone else might grow in their relationship with Him because of words we pen?

Listen to writing-related podcasts.

I didn’t used to think of myself as an auditory learner, but I’ve begun to listen to podcasts and audiobooks. (As an extrovert, I need human contact, even if it’s simply in the form of hearing someone “speak to me” in this way.) Although this may not be the primary way you take in information, it will reassure you that you are not alone in these crazy times—and you just may learn some things that will help with your writing as well.

Connect with writers’ groups on social media.

I’m a both/and kind of person. I enjoy spending time with people I know, whether in person or online, and I also enjoy making new friends. Even if you’re not looking to develop friendships, connecting with writers on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or one of the newer social media outlets can remind you that you are part of a worldwide community of writers. You may learn some new skills and could keep up with the ever-changing world of publishing (both indie and traditional).

Contribute to these groups.

The best way to feel like part of at least one of these online communities is to contribute to the conversation. Enter into conversation threads that interest you. Seek to add value to these conversations. Express appreciation to those who help you grow as a writer—and maybe even as a person. Remember the 80/20 “rule.” Even if you’re allowed to link to your own writing, make sure you “give” far more than you “take.” I’ve found my fellow group members are among the most supportive individuals around. Many (most?) of them have an “all boats rise with the rising tide” outlook.

Build authentic relationships with other writers.

Joining groups is good. Contributing to the conversation is even better. But best of all, from my perspective, is going beyond group interactions and developing authentic relationships with at least a handful of your fellow writers. Of course, you don’t necessarily need to develop new relationships but, instead, strengthen those you already have.

Consider continuing to “meet” with your local writers’ group online if you can’t do so in person.

It’s likely some of you have continued to connect with the members of your local writers’ group even during this never-ending year. However, many of us have likely let this slide. Sometimes, one more thing is just too hard. Still, if you find yourself needing inspiration and encouragement, and don’t really want to expend the energy to build relationships from scratch, perhaps you could partner with even one or two of your writing friends and commit to meeting regularly (say, once a month) via Skype, Zoom, Voxer, or one of the other online tools.

Join a professional writers’ organization such as InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship.

Kudos to the executive who continue to oversee InScribe, even during the-year-like-none-other, 2020!

The team pulled together to learn the tech and run a conference, even though we couldn’t meet in person. (In some circles, twenty-twenty will be known as The Year of Zoom.)

I’m certain that, in the year ahead, no matter what the future brings, they will still do all they can to build up the writing community across the country (and beyond).

If you have additional ideas, we’d love to hear them!

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