I’ll admit it. I write alone. I don’t like to discuss my ideas in advance, don’t like to ask opinions until I’m ready. I don’t let myself look too much at what others are doing, for fear of inadvertently lifting something. Neither do I co-write — although I understand the value of these collaborative things.
Sure, when I’m ready, I turn to beta readers and editors, production teams and web gurus. At that point, I’m happy to share things with family and friends, and shamelessly tap the brains of those who know more than I do.
Only recently, however, have I found that I enjoy belonging to a writing community. I discovered this forum after creating an author persona: a social media identity, separate from my professional one. Some of the people in this group are accomplished writers, others are newbies, some are wannabees, and there are those trying to sell us their services. Anyone interested in words is generally welcome.
What I find refreshing is that I can engage with people in a non-political, alternate world way… a world that is dramatic, magical, frightening, adventurous and romantic … a place that exists in the hearts and minds of the imaginative. On Facebook, I post under my series name: Sutherland Series. On Twitter, I post in my main character’s voice at SarahSutherlandBookSeries @SeriesSarah. The latter allows me to quote “myself,” comment about plot points, and provide contextual anecdotes. It also lets me promote my titles without sounding self-serving. That’s where this community has evolved.
A group such as #WritingCommunity and #Iamwriting presents a fascinating mix of people, working in a wide range of genres, many of which I would not ordinarily follow. I’ve learned about dragons and wizards, tales of survival, murder mysteries, and fantastical places. I’ve engaged with people across wide age and geographical spectrums.
Some ask advice. Some like to comment. Many post encouraging words. Most have a sense of humor. There are those who use this forum to fight personal demons; others who use it to learn about the publishing process. A common thread seems to be that most of us want to stay inspired. We aim to reach robust goals but set realistic expectations. Generally, we cheer each other on. We exchange experiences and lessons learned. We point to deserving work and helpful resources. Sometimes reviewers invite us to submit. Other times, we invite reviewers to check us out.
One of the nicest things about a writing community is that this is safe social media space. We’re basically one big mutual fan club. I have yet to see any nastiness. If anything, this has been one of the most generous and supportive environments I’ve encountered. So, while I might pound out plots and write in solitude, a hermit unto myself — I’ve found a home among like-minded, word-loving people.
If you’re a writer, publisher, or content handler, you might want to join a writing community or establish one. Chances are, if you follow fellow wordsmiths, they will follow you.