Amazing Writing Community Benefits and Why You Need Yours

 

Writing community can be narrowly or broadly defined, depending on how you shape it and what you consider to be your writing community. It can be a scary thought when you’re just starting out, before you’ve launched your first site, page or blog, before you’ve first reached out to other people. I’ll admit it, it’s still a bit scary (but I’m silly like that).

Your writing community generally consists of people that are mutually interested in each other and/or each other’s writing. It’s wonderful when it’s mutual, and even more so when there is interaction. The trademark of a great writing community involves interaction and connection with other authors, writers, and readers.

When building your writing community, don’t mistake connection for selling, there’s a very big difference, so don’t go shoving your work in everyone’s face repeatedly asking them to share, or buy while of course doing little other sharing or interacting of your own (yes, there are sadly too many people that do this).  Be sure to visit and support your fellow writers as much as you would hope they wish to do for you. Do what feels right to you, but just keep that in mind. Here is a recent post I wrote for Writer’s Digest on how to connect on Twitter without selling out your community, where sales pitches are sometimes mistaken for connection.

I was unsure where to begin myself, I’d done some research, read a few books, but actually actively seeking out people I’d never met seemed just as scary as walking into a room full of people I didn’t know…okay, maybe not as, scary, but I’m sure you understand. Regardless though, I was willing, I just wasn’t sure how to begin…

Lucky me, last fall I found the October Platform Challenge (if you’re familiar with my blog, you’ve heard of it)….where do I even start on what I gained? Not only did I learn some important and amazing things, but it’s how I formed the base of my writing community. (If you’re curious, here are a collection of the blogs from the participants of the challenge.)

When October ended, however, a few people from the challenge banded together and formed a group for those that had participated in the challenge and wanted to stay in touch, keep up with each other’s work, keep the inspiration and support going that had marked the October Challenge for so many of us.

Truly, I gained so much the day I started that challenge, and had no idea what I was getting into. The second of January, a solid chunk of our platform plathcal people spent the day sharing thanks, love and support for each other. It was, and still is, so very touching. I believe verklempt was the word of the day, proffered by Kim (one of the many friends I’ve gained as well), and felt by most if not all involved in the impromptu love and support fest.

It’s incredibly wonderful, and useful, to have such a loving and helpful writing community to turn back to, no matter how else each of our communities grows from here. If you aren’t sure what exactly you’re gaining, here are 5 benefits of a writing community, one you actively interact and participate with, not sell to:

  1. Opinions/Thoughts/Options– don’t know which title sounds better for your story? Ask your group. Think a sentence sounds off? Ask your group. Need a ruling on a name? I think you might get it by now, ask your group! They’re a wonderful source of people that have their own opinions, are possibly your future readers, know how the writing game works, and if you’ve surrounded yourself with the right people, more than willing to help. Even if you don’t use an idea offered, it can get your brain churning and you may come up with the perfect thing, just needed to stimulate your mind the right way.
  1. Resources– If you’re looking for some particular or specific information on a topic, tap your writing community for information. It’s possible someone else has gathered some really helpful resources, or you could all do a share dump day per requests for certain materials. Of course, don’t be lazy, do your own research too, know what you want some help with, don’t make everyone trying to be nice sorry because you just don’t want to do the legwork. But your community is a wonderful resource.
  1. Beta readers– okay, now it’s likely that as many writing projects as you have, everyone else in your group has at least that, not to mention everyone’s lives beyond the written or read word. However, it’s possible that a couple of your cohorts might be willing to read over a fresh short story you’re thinking of sending off, or read through your book to help make it stronger before you publish. Be as willing to help as you are willing to ask it of others, at least that’s a rule I try to follow. No one appreciates someone that only takes and never gives. A great writing community is full of givers, and beta readers can be vital in helping to tease out your best, expecting more of you than you realized was there to give.
  1. Support– Moral support can be a vital thing for an author. Writers are notoriously hard on themselves, at least the “real” ones are according to this: real writer real artist vs counterfeitIt’s hard to disagree, I’ve seen this be true first hand. The important part of that fear though, is pushing through it and writing anyway, submitting anyway, and this is where support from your writing community can be infinitely helpful in becoming the best writer you can be. Knowing how many others are going through the same difficulties, and seeing that those that keep going are the ones that achieve their goals, and encourage you to do the same, is one of the best things a writing community can do for you.
  1. Collaborators– Sometimes you find someone that has a similar style or a sense of humor that just clicks with you, or a handful of you have a shared idea. With a good writing community, you’re bound to find at least one of these, and though there is nothing wrong in sticking with a solo gig, being open to the possibility of collaboration could lead you down an amazing road you hadn’t expected. There’s no pressure, but don’t say you’re going to commit if you don’t plan to either. The point is that you have community bursting with ideas, ideas that may be fun to collaborate on.

These are only five, I don’t doubt there being more, but no matter what, the point remains the same: writing communities are a valuable part of the writing experience, and with the right people, it’s enriched by them. I will probably become a broken record on this point, but never underestimate what a writing community can do for you. I know it’s daunting to start, but it’s well worth the plunge.

Tell me about your experience with your writing community. What’s something you love (or find difficult, life isn’t all sunshine) about your writing community?

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Take Out the Toxic: 5 signs You Should Rethink a Friendship

We’ve all started and ended friendships for various reasons in our lives, some of them for very good reasons, some of them not so much (think middle school girls). Who we choose as our friends is very important; theybest-friends-quotes are who we turn to in our times of need to give us love, support, and encouragement. They’re the people that understand and accept, even love, our quirks and our uniqueness. Friends are the family you choose, and that choose you, which makes this relationship special. This makes it hurt all the more when the friends we’ve put our love and trust in turn out to be unworthy. Hopefully these instances are rare, but sometimes it is necessary to stand up for ourselves and say that enough is enough. So how do you know when it’s time to let go and move on from a friendship that you’ve had for years? I recently had to put some serious thought into this question and came up with this-

Here are five signs that you should rethink a friendship, even one with a long history:

 

  1. You no longer trust them– if you find yourself holding back information or making no effort to share details of your life with someone because you don’t trust them with that information, then why are they in your life at all? If you can’t trust your best friend to keep your secrets, or unable to trust who they may tell details about your life to, then it’s time to pack up and say goodbye. No one, and I mean NO ONE deserves to have a “friend” like that.

 

  1. They are almost exactly the same as high/middle/elementary school, whenever you started to know them and their personality stopped evolving. These people may be great to visit when you’re feeling nostalgic because nothing has changed when you go back to them, and the familiar is comforting to us, but if it’s been over a decade and you’ve seen no growth in them as a human being, ask yourself why that is. Growth is essential, but some people would rather stay on the merry-go-round, because its familiar, and it works for them, even if multiple aspects of their life are floundering. These people don’t usually do much in life and are usually the ones shouting on social media and posting vague messages that provoke a swarm of concerned questions. They usually come with drama, and people that evolve and grow, don’t have time for that. Do yourself a favor, pack up the years you’ve had, smile or cry over the good times, and let it go.

 

  1. Their concept of Loyalty doesn’t square with yours- this one could come in different forms because people do have different definitions of what loyalty means in a friendship.  (“Bros before hoes” kind of thinking, some believe in it, others don’t). As another example, a best friend still being friends with an ex that treated you badly, even if only on Facebook. People that treat others badly rarely do so exclusively, so what reason is there for maintaining a relationship with someone that you knew treated your best friend horribly? That may seem silly to some, but that’s your best friend telling you that the paltry friendship of someone that treated you badly is more important than your own feelings. I’m not saying a person should be willing to cut ties with everyone you hate, not at all, but a person that treated you bad shouldn’t be someone your best friend is good chums with. (There are many other examples, but the point is, are you and your best friend on the same page?)

best friend hate ex

 

 

  1. You no longer think of them as someone you can call when you’re upset- this is one of the trademarks of a best friend, you can always talk to them, you can always turn to them for advice and a shoulder, but when that’s no longer true, you should ask yourself why that is. The reasons may vary as much as the people we deal with, but often times this goes along with lack of trust; no longer trusting your vulnerable and personal moments with them is a sign that maybe you should reevaluate, if nothing else.

 

  1. They disrespect or use your family – this is an obvious sign that someone absolutely does not care about you or your friendship. I’m talking about blatant disregard and disrespect; for example, and this is a true story, your best friend, her husband, and 4 animals moving into your mother’s home, and living there for months, rent free. That same best friend and husband each take a “loan” out with your mother for car repairs and text books for school which was conveniently forgotten by both of them; then, after 4 animals turns into 10 due to unexpected kittens, leave your basement with a flea infestation without telling anyone else in the house, a house that included a newborn. People willing to treat you or your family with that level of disregard have no place in your life.

 

Friendship is a two way street (I know it’s cliché, but that’s because it’s true) and there are some lines you should never let anyone cross, especially a friend or best friend. Someone who does not respect your family, certainly has no respect for you, despite what they may claim. Words should not be weighed as heavily as the actions that accompany or don't lose friends find the true onesfollow them. I recently had to relearn this lesson, but once I asked myself the hard questions, the decision was a lot easier to make. I gained nothing but agitation by holding on to the history we had, and once I cut ties, a weight was lifted, and now space is available in my life for more worthy friendships to grow.

 

Do you have a hard time of letting go of people in your life, even if they aren’t good for you?