\Photo by bizoo_n/iStock / Getty Images
Writing a book can be a big and scary process—and it can also be lonely and demotivating if you don’t have anyone to share the process with. Often creative people struggle to find people they can relate to and share their journeys with (and non-creative people aren’t always interested in their journeys).
Fear not, writerly friends! You can totally make writing and other-types-of-creative friends, and there are people out there who can’t wait to meet you. It’s not even as hard as you think it is; you already have stuff in common that excites you and you know what it is to be brought alive by art and there is no stronger people-connector than that.
Writing groups are an amazing way to get involved with the local writing community, get feedback on your work, and to encourage yourself to write regularly. Meeting other people who are as passionate about the craft as you are is exhilarating, and you’ll be surprised by how much you improve your craft through both giving and receiving constructive feedback.
To find a writers group that already exists, ask your local writers centre for suggestions. If there isn’t one that is suitable for you, ask them to publicize your interest and get anyone who might be interested to contact you.
Another option is to join a facilitated writers group or a long-term course. Again, writers centres may run these, or you could join something like the Australian Writers Marketplace’s online Year of the Novel course if you’d rather stay home.
Attending events (in real life)
If you’re willing to leave your house (and you don’t live in the middle of nowhere), there are lots of opportunities to meet other writers. Give your state writers centre or other local relevant organisation a call and ask what opportunities you might be able to go to. They will be able to direct you to writing workshops on all different topics, networking events, book launches, festivals, poetry slams, and other events for the writerly minded.
Attending an event aimed at your interest areas is a great way to meet with other writers who may be at the same level as you, or be open to collaboration. Once you’ve mingled at a couple of events, you’ll start to get an idea of how the community in your area works. Generally speaking, the writing community is surprisingly small and everyone knows-someone-who-knows-someone—you just have to get involved, and before you know it, you’ll be completely bombarded with writerly people.
Attending events (from your couch)
It’s totally fine if you can’t attend events in real life—there are plenty of happenings you can join from the safety of your bed. While there are writing communities online year-round, the advantage of attending these events is the sudden influx of resources and the community around one specific goal or idea acts as an instant icebreaker between you and everyone else there. Plus, they’re just fun!
Take a look at events like NaNoWriMo (and Camp NaNoWriMo), Book-in-a-Week, and the Digital Writers Festival, and see if any of them tickle your fancy. Also pay attention to other events such as word sprints or writing festivals and track hash tags on twitter. Don’t be afraid to reach out to the people using the tag; the worst they can do is not reply.
Thanks to the internet, location and time zones are no barriers, and you can find yourself becoming writing buddies with people from all over the world. There are active writing Facebook groups and hundreds of Twitter hashtags (1, 2) for both writers and readers. While the NaNoWriMo forums are most active in November, they are open all year round for writers to commiserate.
Tumblr is another popular platform for writers to join as it is both an active social media platform and a blogging platform suitable for posting written work. You can find other writers using tags such as #writing, #spilledink, and #writeblr.
If you’re not sure where to start, and want to create a feed on Twitter or Tumblr of writing things, follow a couple of influential people in your interest areas (or people who post in the hashtags), and then take a look at who they follow. Look for journals and magazines as well. Then, as you go through your feed, look for opportunities to interact with the people posting stuff that interests you.
At the end of the day, whether they are at an event or online, people become part of the writing community because they want to meet other writers. Writing itself can be a solitary task, but the community brings many wonderful people together. Don’t be afraid to send someone a message or ask them about what they write, because they’re there for exactly the same reasons as you are.