Maybe you’re one of those people who prefers writing in a closed off space deep underground where no one can find you. I get that. I spent a good chunk of my twenties writing in a small room in the basement of my parents house. But if there’s one thing I’ve come to appreciate more and more as I get older and my writing career takes on different shapes is that there is an importance of a writing community. Or at least a small group of people that you trust and trust you to make each other’s work better.
- Accountability. Probably the most important thing that comes with being in a group. In fact, you can probably just take that and not finish reading the rest of this piece. Now that I think about it, I probably should have made this the final point so you’d actually get to the end. Well. Live and learn. The truth of the matter is, when people who care about you as a person and as a writer, they’re always going to ask what you’re working on and how things are coming. Nothing makes you feel worse than saying, “Well, I’m really not doing much these days, but only because that Charles in Charge marathon wasn’t going to watch itself.”
- A Sounding Board. There are times I shy away from sharing a pitch for a book or a script that I’m playing with because I’m afraid it’ll sound dumb. But that’s just the thing –a community of people, who’s opinions you trust and who’s skill set you admire, is probably going to be the best judge of whether or not your story has the power to work. Its when you see the spark in their eyes that matches yours when you talk about it, that validates what you’ve got. And then again, sometimes when you hear yourself talking about that thriller about the sassy killer robot dog in 1870s Wyoming, you’ll know that group just cares what you’re spending irredeemable hours of your life that you’re not getting back.
- Anti-Isolation. No matter how big of an introvert you are, you’re always going to need some kind of core group around you to keep you grounded in reality. As much the public can annoy me, it’ll at least give you a little bit of perspective. And your community will totally understand.
- Your Opinion is Valuable. As much as I’ve come to realize that I need people around me in spite of my lone wolf status, but I’m needed too. Others need my support, and to point out what my associates are doing right just like I need them for the same.
- Everyone needs a Cheerleader. Things seem a little pointless when there’s no validation. The Fictionistas is such a group. We’re constantly checking in with each other, seeing how we’re doing, bragging about each other when we can. Its lit a fire under my own work. Not every group is helpful or beneficial but you have to sort out which group is right for you. When you find it, you’ll know.