For the longest time, I thought that writing was a solitary activity. I’m one of those writers who likes to go to Barnes and Noble, plug in noise-cancelling headphones, and just write away for a few hours, and I tend to do my best when I’m alone. Until I started participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) 3 years ago, I didn’t realize how many people around me were writers, and how much I enjoyed communicating with them and how much they helped improve my own writing.
This community of writers led to me meeting five of my greatest friends, all of whom I talk with constantly and even co-run a company (THIS company) with—Athaia, MasterChief (a.k.a. Chief), Jendora, hollyash, and Naynish. I had met most of them through the SSN (“Say Something Nice”) thread on the NaNo website, where we complimented the person’s excerpt above us before sharing our own. Atty messaged me in May or June saying that she had been drawn into making a cabin for Camp NaNo in July, since none of the others had had a great camp. I accepted, and we immediately formed the cabin and started sharing our WIPs with each other. We quickly realized, though, that we talked too much, both about brainstorming and about our everyday lives, to be restricted to 200 characters on the camp website. Thus, we started a Discord server, where we could talk to our heart’s content. We also started our own forum, where we were able to share our own work with each other and help each other brainstorm solutions for our works. I am deeply grateful for them, because both my books and life would not be the same without them, as they’ve both helped me get through a lot of rough patches in life and helped me figure out how to get over problems in my works.
I definitely believe that it’s important to have a writing group, or at least a community of fellow writers that you can reach out to. Why? Well, here are a few reasons…
- They understand what the writing life is like.
I’m just going to call it now: writers are weird. To the outside world, we look like we just drown ourselves in coffee and stare at a computer all day. Writers understand, however, how much work goes into drafting a book or screenplay (or whatever else your WIP is). If you aren’t connected to other writers, you won’t have that support system behind you who knows what you’re going through. Most of my friends and family aren’t writers, so they don’t get why I get so emotional over my characters or why I get so frustrated when I can’t figure out what I want to write or how to write it. My writing group gets it, however, and we can joke around about our characters not listening to us and having issues as much as we want to. We can also discuss all the random stuff we’ve researched in the last while, which—given us—is a lot of weird stuff. For example, I recently researched different poisons to mix in water for my third Tarn book, while Atty looked up government torture techniques (to the point that we’re all pretty sure she’s got a government agent watching her 😊 ). Where I would hesitate to tell my “normal” friends and family about this, I have no qualms about telling the others in my writing group, mainly because they won’t think I’m weird.
Or, maybe they will, but they’ll embrace it, since they’re the same way. 😀
- There’s someone to hold you accountable
Writing is one of my favorite things in the world, and I’d do it all the time if I could. However, I have 2 major WIPs going on (one that’s going to be traditionally published in September YAY!!) along with many fanfictions that I’ve been writing, so I often end up working on one of my fanfictions and don’t get back to Tarn (or Axoria, the location for my newest WIP) for a long time. My friends keep me honest, however, demanding more Tarn (or, in someone’s case, more Drewlaine *coughcough* Nay *coughcough*) and gently pressuring to make sure that I don’t forget to work on my main WIPs. We also keep each other accountable in our daily lives, as these five are usually the first to tell me to go eat, take a shower, or go to bed (among other things). Yes, other people do tell me to do those things, but my writing group will repeatedly check in on me to make sure that I’ve done the thing I said I was going to do. Having people who keep me accountable in both life and writing (especially in writing) helps me to actually do what I say that I’m going to do; after all, if I’ve promised them that I’ll post a new excerpt after I shower, then I’d better go shower and then post that excerpt! 😀
- There’s someone who understands your brilliance! 😉
One of the best reasons I believe that every writer should be connected to a writing community in some form is that there will be someone there to encourage you in your writing and your everyday life. Since most other around you—most likely—will not be writers, you’ll probably feel uncomfortable sharing your work with them.. I never felt like I could share mine, as my friends would probably think something was wrong with me, and my family would be rather concerned (as a lot of the scenes that I wrote for my first Tarn book involved swordfights and physical violence, as well as some suggested sexual harassment). Once I connected with my writing friends, however, I finally had people I could share any of my excerpts with without fear of judgmental stares or confused questions like, “wait, but you aren’t this violent in real life…are you?”
Well, no, but…*rolls eyes*…
Anyways, it’s easier to share your writing with someone who isn’t going to instantly think there’s something wrong with you writing about demons fighting each other or an undersea colony (both of which are things my friends have written about). It’s also easier when you know that those people will actually enjoy your work and support what you’re doing. I highly doubt that my Empire of Tarn series would be anywhere near what it currently is (a planned 6 book series) without the encouragement from my friends to keep going even when I’m having trouble with a plot point or developing characters. Knowing that I have five people in my corner who love my cast just as much as I love theirs and who are there to support me no matter what is incredibly reassuring, and I’m incredibly thankful that I met them and grew to be such close friends with them.
Well, that’s all for now! Sorry this is so short—I would have written more, but I have a large homework project due next Friday and need to actually start it… 😀 Hopefully this helps explain why having a writing group is such a great idea, and why it can be such a great benefit to you as both a writer and person. I will see you all soon, but for now, it’s off to bed and hopefully to a great day of homework tomorrow!