On Seeking Writing Community

Writers are introverts, for the most part. We sit in a room by ourselves (except for all the fictional characters crowding our heads) working and we like it. (At my husband’s work Christmas party this year, I had a long drunken conversation with a woman who couldn’t imagine actually wanting to sit down to write. She was amazed I really, truly, liked doing it.)

And yet, because of the very nature of it, the writing life can be lonely.  I am blessed to have fifty gazillion people in my life–husband, kids, grandchildren, friends–but most of them are like the woman at the Christmas party.  They can’t quite figure out why I do what I do.  So  I also count myself blessed to have a group of close writing friends, both local and online, and I treasure them for the relief of being able to be fully myself with them.

But for some reason I have shied away from joining other groups that would offer community.  I belong to several Facebook groups devoted to writing (besides my own, which is selfishly my favorite) and I rarely comment in them.  I’ve belonged to the Women’s Fiction Writer’s Association nearly since its inception, but I’m not terribly active in it.  And I’ve long heard great things about the Romance Writer’s of America, but I’ve never managed to join it.

We’ve got a couple of great local groups here in Portland, too–Willamette Writers and Oregon Writer’s Colony. I was very active in the former, including several stints on the board, back when it was more of a club and I was more of a person interested in writing, and I used to be involved with OWC as well.  But lately? Not so much.

I think this is because when I have extra time, I want to spend it writing, not thinking about writing or talking about it, or planning an event around it. (This excludes all my teaching, locally and in France, which I love.) I got burned out on volunteering around writing groups all those years ago when I was active.

As for Facebook groups–same thing. Who wants to spend tons of time commenting on writing when they should be doing the actual work? Said the woman who runs her own Facebook group devoted to writing. So, yeah, I think it is something that goes a little deeper than the tired old time excuse. I think–wait for it–it has to do with another tired old trope, that of the fear of being seen. 

It’s a weird fear, really. I’m widely published and have been blogging for almost eleven years. I’m active on Instagram and Twitter.  But Facebook for some reason always makes me feel exposed in a way that other media sites doesn’t. Which is how I know what the fear is. And Facebook groups–those lovely small clubs where all members are devoted to the same passion–feel much safer to me.

I should have posted a disclaimer to all my clients and students, current and former, before I wrote all this. Because I am forever harping on them to up their social media game and develop their platforms.   And now that I’ve publicly outed myself for my fear of being seen, I think I can be a bit more sympathetic when they cringe at my talk of platforms.

But I have made progress  lately myself. I joined RWA this week, and re-upped my membership in WFWA.  I joined a new Facebook group that is attached to a Patreon and is still very small–and I’m finding it inspiring. (Okay, okay, its only been one day.)

I guess what’s important to remember–and the actual point of this post–is that finding some kind of community of your writing peers is important.  It can be local, or online, or even global for that matter.  The cool thing about our current society is that there’s an option for everyone, from the totally introverted to the most gregarious extrovert.

Okay, thanks for going along on the journey of this post today, as I figured out what it was really all about.  And please, please, please do tell–how do you find writing community? Leave a comment!

Photos from everystockphoto.com.

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2 Comments on "On Seeking Writing Community"

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J.D.
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Hello, Charlotte. I’ve been too introverted recently. I think cultivating friendships in the writing community is very important. Like sitting down to turn those words out everyday, sometimes we need a kick in the pants to reach out to our writing friends.
I’m plugging away, though some days my output is sooooooo low. I do feel steam gathering, so hopefully I will make up for my wasted time.
I always enjoy my visits here. All my best. J.D.