Being a writer can be a lonely business, whether you write in a professional capacity or in your spare time. The act of writing is often solitary out of necessity and involves sitting in a quiet, secluded space so that you can concentrate.
This means that, when it comes time to seek feedback for your work, it can be difficult to find the right person to talk to. Sure, you can do the rounds of your friends, family members, colleagues and anyone else willing to read through what you’ve written, but this can result in a mixed bag of criticism. What you really need is the opinion of other writers.
Luckily, the internet age has provided loners everywhere with the means to contact each other without even leaving their houses. This has been a real boon for writers of all types, as it means that connections can be forged no matter how many physical miles lie between two writing desks. Many traditionally ‘analogue’ activities have moved online over the past 20 years or so, bringing modernised, updated versions of favourite activities to a newly networked population. Enthusiasts can now watch TV and film via Netflix, play classic table games through online casinos like Poker Stars, and read books, magazines and journals via online hosts, e-readers and specialised apps. This revolution has also hit the writing world as a whole, allowing those in the business to write, edit, read and communicate through online channels.
Here we’ll take a look at some of our favourite communication tools and mediums.
This may seem like almost too obvious a choice, but social media really can be a big help in connecting you with other writers. Joining Facebook groups, connecting with people via LinkedIn or watching other creators’ content on YouTube can all lead to forging mutually beneficial, long-lasting relationships with other writers, even if it’s just through the comments section. Traditionally image- or video-based platforms like Instagram and TikTok host something for absolutely everyone too, no matter what your interest is. Niche writing categories like pirate-themed romance novels or fictional instruction manuals all find their place in the world of social media, and give otherwise isolated people the chance to communicate. Text-based sites like Twitter perhaps lend themselves more readily to the writing community, but then the fast-paced snarky world of the Twittersphere isn’t for everybody. Finding a platform that moves at your pace and where you feel you fit in the best is of the utmost importance, but don’t let your nerves get the better of you – take the plunge and join the social media platform that fits with your values, and you’ll soon find yourself chatting with other like-minded people.
Social media can only take us so far, however. This is where specialist online writing communities come in. The immensely popular global endeavour of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) has a dedicated core of writers who stay in touch via the official website. They offer each other advice, encouragement and support all year round, though especially during November when everyone attempts to put 50,000 words on the page before the end of the month. Alternatively, there are sites like Fictionaut, which hosts original content up for critique alongside forums, blogs, and groups of writers who want to converse with each other. Another similar setup is Wattpad, which even runs its own writing contests and boasts a community of over 90 million people – you are bound to find a kindred writing spirit in such a large group! Scribophile has a concentrated focus on workshopping, as well as free resources and an active community, whereas The Writing Cooperative uses Medium’s unique format to host coaching calls, group discussions, worksheets, assignments and much more. Once you start looking, you’ll find that there’s plenty out there for you to discover.
Of course, you could just do things the old fashioned way and meet up with fellow writers in person. Tools like MeetUp facilitate the organisation of groups, clubs and classes within localised areas, putting people in touch with each other and helping them to host their own events. Outside of this, it’s always worth checking local noticeboards in cafes and other places with a heavy footfall; libraries are another good place to look as they will often hire out meeting rooms to writing groups and encourage people to use the space in this way. If you want to go the whole hog and dive “write” in, then you could always sign up for a writers’ retreat. These organised events offer the opportunity to really dial down on your writing in a supportive atmosphere, with experienced writers on hand to help out and offer advice. You’ll be amazed how much you can get done when you really set your mind to it.