For the most part, writing is a solitary pursuit. Writers think of an idea (alone), madly type away on their computers (alone), and wrestle with themselves to make it better (alone). This task of getting words to paper can be frustrating, heartbreaking, and full of discouragement.
If you’re a writer, you know what I mean.
Sometimes, you open another rejection letter and think, ‘I can’t keep doing this.’ Sometimes, you stare at the words on your screen and wonder how on earth you can come up with a story that’s fresh and original. Especially if you’ve written yourself into a corner! Sometimes, on those rare occasions when you have broken through writer’s block or come up with a great plot twist or have a short story accepted into an anthology, you want someone to celebrate with.
That’s when surrounding yourself with a fabulous writing community becomes essential.
I’ve been blessed to find myself smack-dab in the middle of a supportive group of fellow writers who commemorate and cheer on every achievement (no matter how minor), reassure me when things go woefully pear-shaped, and provide much-needed critiques to keep my writing at its very best.
This didn’t happen by accident. I had to push myself to get out of my cloistered comfort zone. I joined ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) and got on their main critique loop, found writing groups on Facebook, developed relationships with like-minded writers, collaborated with the fabulous women from Quills & Inkblotts, and asked to be a part of a small critique group.
Slowly, I’ve found my writing tribe, and I couldn’t be happier.
Now I’ve got a regular group I can turn to for support as I navigate the writing journey. I don’t have to explain where I’m coming from either; we’ve all had similar experiences. They help me in so many ways, but I’ll limit my post to the three big reasons why I cherish my writing community.
1. Overcoming Discouragement
This is a huge one for me. Because there isn’t some magic wand out there to turn me into a major best-selling author with a steady income, rabid following, and myriad inspirations (but if you find one…let me know!).
Writing is hard. There are no shortcuts. And the path is littered with great big boulders called ‘no, thank you.’
It’s easy to take this rejection personally.
But when you’ve got a group cheering you on, reminding you that you’ve got good ideas, telling you how much they enjoy your work, well…it’s easier to keep going.
Even some of the personal stuff I go through gets a much-needed boost at times.
2. Celebrating success
A personal favourite for obvious reasons 😉
It can feel like writing achievements are few and far between. And to someone who doesn’t write, getting excited about something small (like getting down a thousand words on your WIP), doesn’t make sense.
But my crew is there to throw confetti and break out the sparkling cider at the slightest provocation.
Found the perfect name for a main character? Awesome! Had an agent express interest in a manuscript? Woohoo! Indie-published a book? Way to go!
Celebrating our victories together makes them all the sweeter.
3. Honing writing skills
Oooh. This one’s a biggie.
When I first started writing again, (after almost a twenty year hiatus), I was clueless about…well…just about everything. I had a plot, I had some characters, but I wrote without regard to genre specifications, story structure, and (sometimes) grammar. I didn’t understand how the publishing industry worked, didn’t know I should be developing an author platform, didn’t realise how much I needed input from others if I wanted to succeed.
The first time I submitted my work for a critique from people I didn’t yet know, I held my breath. Only my closest friends had seen my manuscript, and because I’m sure they didn’t want to hurt my feelings, they all said it was wonderful. But I definitely needed some help. That first critique was a little like a balloon getting popped with a pin though I was happy to see where I could make improvements.
I’ve progressed beyond a huge, general pool of writers all ‘critting’ one another’s work, to a smaller, more intimate band of fellow writers. I can depend on my awesome critique group to pick up typos, tell me when a plot twist just isn’t working (or where one is needed), and spur me to make my writing tighter, more thrilling, and full of passion.
One of the best things about all these reasons is that I get to be there for others, too. I can help lift that cloud of discouragement with a (virtual) hug and some kind words, rejoice when a goal is met, and look over someone’s WIP with an eye to help polish it to be the best it can be.
I’m thankful for my writing community. I literally would not be where I am today without them!
We want to hear from YOU. If you have a writing community, what do you cherish about it? If you’re still looking to find your tribe, let us know. We’d love to give you some insight to the process.
Jebraun Clifford always wanted to step through a door into an imaginary kingdom, so it’s no surprise she now calls Middle Earth home. Too short to be an elf and too tall to be a Hobbit, she lives in a gorgeous town smack-dab in the centre of New Zealand’s North Island filled with thermal activity, stunning lakes, and enough Redwoods to make her Californian heart swoon. Her unpublished YA fantasy, The Two Queens of Kyrie, won both the American Christian Fiction Writer’s 2015 First Impressions contest and the 2016 Genesis contest. She loves coffee, tree ferns, dark chocolate, and Jesus, and harbours a secret penchant for British spelling.