Writing is a solitary craft, one that demands tremendous patience, persistence, and self-reliance from an author. Students and beginning authors write with the implicit understanding that they will work alone, but most of them really have no idea just how isolating it can feel to do so. Writing a short story over the course of a few days could be a refreshing exercise, but gruelling over the first draft of a novel for months on end is an entirely different story. It’s these marathon writers who I want to address today.
My message is a simple one: although your writing requires solitude, you could benefit from some company every now and again. And I’m not talking about hanging out with your friends after a long day of writing, although there’s nothing wrong with that. I’m talking about spending time among your peer and contemporaries, among fellow writers who share the same struggle to produce and market their great work.
An organic writing workshop
In my opinion, forming a writer’s group in your local community is among the best things you can do to sharpen your skills as a writer. If you’ve ever yearned for the college days of healthy critics, workshops, and brainstorming sessions among fellow writers then you’ll understand the appeal of a community writer’s group. Such an organization allows writers to share their work together, to exchange ideas and to vent about the creative process in an environment of like-minded people. I firmly believe that a strong writing community makes for better writing than any of the expensive weekend-long writing workshops out there.
Unlike sharing your work with friends and loved ones, you might actually accomplish something by sharing your writing with fellow authors. You’d be exposing your stories to experienced writers who (in theory) know everything from the basic structural mechanics to the advanced nuances of characterization and plot development. In other words, you’d be sharing your work with people who know how to make a story better. A writer’s community also offers authors the rare experience to share their feelings with artists who truly sympathize with their struggles.
You’re not so alone
Writing is no simple feat, and sometimes it’s hard to share the difficulty of the process with those around us who don’t write. In college it was easier to talk about writing: it seemed like everyone had at least an essay to write, if not a term paper, short story, or poem. But earnest attempts to write after college—especially those who write fiction—can turn authors into hermits with no one to share their grievances.
Writing communities can solve these feelings of isolation; they remind you that you’re not the only one struggling to write the next Great American Novel. You’d be surprised at how empowered you’d feel after meeting with fellow writers. It’s nice to mingle and network among people who share the same passions that you have for the written word. And you never know where these communities may lead: perhaps your work will benefit from prolonged exposure to seasoned writers, or you might land a publishing gig through one of your peers. The possibilities are endless, but you won’t have an opportunity to seize them until you form a writing community.
So what are you waiting for?
Guest post by Mariana Ashley, who frequently gives advice on applying to online colleges to prospective students. Reach her at email@example.com.