3 Easy Ways to Build Your Writing Community

Writing is a task best done by oneself.

Wait, that's not true ... let me rephrase that to explain how I'm right, as well as how I'm wrong.

Writing your first draft is generally best done in private; what happens before and after that first draft is best done in some form of writing community.

One of the ways in which writing is difficult, at least for me, is that dichotomy, the bi-directional pull of introvert and extrovert.

I love sitting alone for hours or days, pulling stories out of dark corners of my brain, but I need people outside of my skull to help me polish my work, and eventually, hopefully, to enjoy it.

Finding and maintaining the balance is, I believe, critical to the success of any writer ... I don't claim to have THE answers, but I have some answers that have worked for me.

Three things I've found helpful in building a functioning writing ecosystem for myself to live, and flourish, within (in addition to the lonely writer/writing thing, which I've got down) are:
  • Writing exercises
  • Reading group
  • Writing group

Writing Exercises: I like story dice as writing prompts. Roll the dice, have everyone fix on one or more of the images, write for 10-15 minutes, then everyone who's comfortable shares what they wrote. It's a great way to prime your creative pump, work on building from bare ideas, and growing your comfort with sharing material with people.

Reading Group: There are tons of wonderful books on the craft of writing, and the writing life, and getting together with a group of writers to talk about one of them once a month or so is a great way to learn about writing as well as learn from other writers. I started a writers bookclub in Keene, and it's growing each month, with each book we read and talk about amongst ourselves.

Writing Group: sharing your writing with a group aimed at getting feedback on how to improve your material can be intimidating, but it's an invaluable resource and aid in polishing your craft and your product. Finding the right group for you can be difficult, as different groups have widely varying goals and methods; you should try any given group for a couple of sessions to see how the fit feels, and then either fully invest or move on in search of a better fit.

Where? ... How?
All three of the tools I've mentioned may already exist in your neighborhood, or at least nearby. If you ask people at indie bookstores and your local library, or search FB or Google, you will likely find numerous options.

If for whatever reason, these things don't exist near you, or the configuration for some reason (time, distance, population, focus, etc.) doesn't work for you, then you're in luck ... you can start your own.

Ask the library or bookstore if they'll let you use the space to start a group for any/all of these activities, and you'll generally be pleasantly surprised at their reply.

Once you begin making regular use of these three devices to grow and nourish your writing community, you'll be surprised at the improvement in the output and quality of your writing.


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