I was thinking about the word ‘community’ recently. It conjures up a host of different things for different people, I guess.
Some might think of their community as being the people around where they choose to live. For others, it could be the members of their local gym, or religious group.
Googling the word community, I find references to ‘a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common’, and ‘the condition of sharing or having certain attitudes and interests in common’.
The second of these got me thinking about community in regards to writing.
I know writers who swear by their local writing group. Pleasant evenings spent discussing their latest work-in-progress, whether in person or online. And then there is certainly a huge online writing community in the shape of Twitter. Try typing into Twitter any number of words associated with writing and you’re bound to find likeminded people to connect to, however obscure your writing topic.
I think this idea of community is something worth exploring further, because writing can be such a lonely, solitary pursuit. Whether you are a best selling novelist, a private poet, or even an online blogger, finding your tribe can help you to feel less alone. Social media can be great for this, although it can have its pitfalls: you can only read so many posts of writers talking about how many words they’ve written today, or the acceptance emails that are piling up, before you begin to feel inadequate about your morning spent procrastinating over starting your manuscript.
Something I have found great satisfaction in during recent years has been to offer my services to online writing journals. They often advertise posts for volunteer readers, social media enthusiasts, or even editors, to help them read through, promote or edit their mountains of submissions. Most online journals are run by enthusiastic, overworked lovers of literature. They very often don’t get paid, and some of them use any income they do get to pay the writers for their work.
In my writing career so far I have served time both as a reader and as a contributing editor for some great online journals, including The Short Story, The Nottingham Review, and The Sunlight Press, and I have found these roles stimulating and always inspiring for my own writing.
I would recommend getting involved with online journals if you can, as the rewards are definitely worth the work you put in. If your favourite journals or websites aren’t advertising for anyone, why not approach them? You never know – they could be drowning in submissions, and might welcome your support.
However you build a writing community, whether in person or online, finding the support and inspiration to keep you coming back to the page can be a valuable lifeline.