Writing in Community (A Love Letter)
The first week in February, I was in fun, funky Astoria, Oregon to co-lead a writing workshop. Fabulous week with marvelous writers. The only downside was that after a mild winter, snow suddenly loomed in the forecast, so we left a couple days early—but not before finishing the workshop.
There were eight of us, and Debbie and I, the two teachers. During the first session, we asked writers what they wanted to get out of the workshop. Many said they sought writing community. At the end of the week, we asked what they’d gotten out of the workshop. Everyone said they’d gained community.
This made me happy. I think we writers forget how important community is, because most of the time we toil away at our desks alone. And yes, many of us are drawn to this profession because we are introverts. Add to that a natural tendency to get nervous about sharing work, and this can make us hesitant to even seek out community in the first place.
I am an extrovert of the highest order. Plunk me down amongst friends sharing a cup of coffee or a bottle of wine and I’m at my happiest. So it’s no surprise that I’ve found my way into a number of writing communities over the years. But I well remember attending my first writer’s group meeting and being so nervous I made my husband come with me. A short time later, I was on the board of that group. And in the meantime, I’d made the lovely discovery that writers are the most interesting people in the world.
Since then I’ve participated in two long-running critique groups (serially, I’m monogamous when it comes to writing groups; well, and marriage, too) and now I now co-lead a critique group as well as meet periodically with several other writers to review our work. Beyond that, I have writing friends with whom I meet to talk shop regularly. I take groups of writers to France every year, and also teach occasional workshops in Nashville. I’m also close with several writers with whom I earned my MFA. But I never could have envisioned this when I so hesitantly attended that first writing group meeting so long ago.
A few points if you are looking for community:
–Community does not have to center around critiquing, though if you can find a good critique group you’ll gain both community and help with your writing. Yes, it is intimidating as all hell the first time you share your work with a new group of writers. But over time, it gets easier (like rejection). Some people like to work one on one with crit partners and I’ve heard good things about that process, too.
–Most communities have local writing groups. Here in Portland we have Willamette Writers and Oregon Writer’s Colony. Both sponsor regular events. Your city likely has something similar.
Ask the Google.
–Many national organizations have local chapters. I’m a member of the Women’s Fiction Writer’s Association, and the Romance Writers of America. The latter has an active local chapter, though I’m embarrassed to admit I’ve never attended a meeting. Groups like Sisters in Crime and SCBWI, for children’s book authors, also have local chapters.
–Some writers I know have had good luck finding groups through Meet Up. Or you can take a class from a local college. Many of the writers I know first met through taking my business partner Debbie’s class at community college.
–You might also try asking on social media or at a community center.
–Take a workshop. Often these turn into ongoing communities, either locally or online. (May I humbly suggest you consider coming to France?)
Whichever you choose, I hope you get as much from your writing community as I get from ine!
Here is your prompt of the week:
Altogether now, let’s…..
Here’s my ko-fi, where you can buy me a cup of coffee or any kind of drink you’d like (so far it has been running toward wine). Thank you in advance for the treat!
France 2019—Would you like to study writing in the south of France with me? You can! Find all the details here. Space is filling up fast so hop on over and check it out!
Novel Writing Workshop—Registration is now open for my three-day workshop at the Sitka Center, which is in Oregon, not Alaska. I love teaching at this gorgeous spot and I’m excited to be returning again in June. Learn more here.
And of course, don’t forget to join the Facebook group if you haven’t already. I post lots of good links and often we get some good conversation going.