Most readers I know are also writers. Maybe they’re not writing the next Big Thing, or posting what they are writing anywhere. But they write. Whether reviews or poems or short stories or scenes – they write.
And almost every one of them has a community of fellow writers and readers around them that keep them on task, or distract them when they need it. They have a group of friends, maybe online, maybe people they meet up with – maybe even family members they trust – who know they write, who read their words, and who are there to bolster their confidence when it seems like they need it, or to critique their words.
Writing communities, in my humble opinion, are everywhere. And boy, are they important.
Let’s start with the obvious, shall we?
Communities are necessary because we do not want to feel like we’re alone in how we’re feeling. Talking to fellow writers, or to people who are willing to listen, makes you feel less alone in your frustration. I mean, there is a reason I have a tag for writing on my personal Tumblr where I reblog relatable posts. It reminds me that there are other people who get what I am going through when I get stuck on a sentence, or a paragraph. That there are other writers who get it. Now, this might not be a community that I personally know, but it is the wider writing community, and it still helps me as a writer to know they are out there.
You know the feeling of frustration you get when you write something, and at first, you think it’s great! And then the self-doubt creeps in, and everything you write suddenly looks like trash? Yeah, that feeling. That is when you should turn to someone you trust and go “Hey, I need you to read this and tell me, truthfully, what you think” because you need to take a step back yourself. Someone else’s perspective will help you clear your mind from doubts, will help you figure out what no longer works for you, and what does. That person you trust? It might just be one person, but that’s your core community. It could be your best friend, or your significant other, or your sibling. It could be someone you met online, or someone you went to school with. That person you share your writing with, whose judgement you trust, that person will help you reach your potential.
Sometimes you need to leave the house for a change of scenery when you write. And sometimes you don’t want to be alone when you do. The person you call? Who sits next to you, or opposite you at the library or the coffee shop. Who does their own thing while you write. Who will distract you when you get stuck, who understands why you’ve called them out like this without you having to explain yourself over and over. That person is your writing community. Having someone there, just knowing they are there to pull you out of your own head, is helpful. Trust me on this. I’ve had the same person there for me for just over half my life now.
Of course, some writing communities are literal writing groups. If you’re lucky enough to live in an area with other like-minded writers, then you could go out once a week to sit and work on your individual projects, bounce ideas off of one another, read snippets of your work to each other, or just talk about what you’ve read recently. A friend of mine has a group that does this, and sometimes I get jealous that I don’t.
And then I remember my other friend and realise that I do have a writing community of my own. I have people online I can turn to, and people in my personal life I can turn to, when I need a beta reader, or a distraction, or someone to just hurtle ideas and verbalise thoughts at.
Writing communities are important because they help us figure out what we want to say. They might not be who you think they are – you might not have even realised they’re a writing community yet. Maybe you call them something else. But they’re there for you, they’re important, and we need them.
What do you think?