Posted by Sarah Hopkins, Fiction Editor for Issue 4.1
The romantic idea of writing is that of a solitary writer, perhaps in a cabin, plunking away at the keyboard in peace. Perhaps the writer might also be sitting in a coffee shop, but even then they are sitting alone.
In truth, however, there is no reason for anyone to write alone. After all, a piece of creative writing is part of a conversation. It’s a message from the author to the reader. Finding a community of writers can be extremely beneficial to both your craft and your mental wellbeing.
Literary journals like Gandy Dancer, The Common, and december magazine provide one such community, connecting writers and readers. Here at Gandy, we strive to create a community among writers from the SUNY system specifically.
With the help of the internet, you don’t even need to go outside or physically interact to find a writing community. Writing forums are all over the place. Websites like Wattpad, Figment, and Scribophile allow users to post their own writing and leave constructive critiques for other members. Other sites, such as FanFiction.net and Archive Of Our Own, provide a community forum for writers and readers of fanfiction specifically. Online writing communities can be very helpful, especially to young writers who are just excited to get their work out there.
Now that it’s November, NaNoWriMo (or “National Novel Writing Month”) has rolled around again, and its community of writers is busy churning out 50,000-word novels in thirty days. The NaNo website is full of forums where novel-writers can support each other, offer critiques, and give advice for pumping up that word count. The most notable thing about the community of NaNoWriMo, however, is the real-world, physical presence of writing communities called Local Regions. The Local Regions function like clubs, and are run by dedicated members, referred to as Municipal Liaisons. Many Local Regions run year-round, featuring write-ins, workshops, and readings.
It’s hard to beat a local, real-life writing community. Even the smaller online communities can sometimes feel like a big, echoless pit. You can toss your work down it and barely hear the splash it makes at the bottom. I found my own community at the Creative Writing Club at Geneseo, fondly referred to as “C-Dubz.” Knowing other people who write, and who care about writing, had an enormous impact on my development as a writer. I no longer thought of writing as a special, elusive form of magic, but as a legitimate skill that I could hone. Through workshopping my own pieces and the pieces of others, I became as practiced in revision as I was in producing terrible first drafts.
Finding a community of writers that you appreciate and respect is like finding a good pair of running shoes. They offer much-needed support, even when you’re all sweaty and you feel like your pacing could be better. Whether you find your own community in a club, a class, or an online forum, having a group of other writers can make the lonely process of writing a little less lonely.