Writing, unlike many other hobbies and professions, is self-directed. And unless you can write in a busy coffee shop or surrounded by other people, most often you work in isolation.
While many writers enjoy the time alone and the quiet space to work, writing is difficult and emotionally exhausting work. This is why it’s so important for many writers to connect to a literary community. Involving ourselves in a collective of fellow writers allows us to be surrounded, at least once in a while, by people who feel the same torments and triumphs as we do; to have colleagues to turn to, lean on, and share our work with—to enjoy a community that serves as the proverbial water-cooler of the writing world.
The problem is that unless you’re already part of a long-standing literary cohort, finding or creating a writing community of your own can seem a daunting task.
Well, fret not. We’re here to show you how it’s done.
Attend Readings and Book Launches
Yes. You’re going to have to leave your house. We didn’t mention it earlier because we didn’t want to scare you off, but it’s an unfortunate reality. Wherever you may be, there’s a literary community hiding somewhere—a church basement, a coffee shop, somebody’s living room—they’re out there, and it’s your job to find them. Attending a reading is a great way to meet people, and to get a feel for what other writers and artists are working on in the community. Don’t fret if you write fiction and the only readings in town are poetry—most people write in more than one genre, anyways. At these kinds of gatherings the aim is to meet people, so buy a six-dollar glass of wine and mingle like your literary life depends on it! You might not be successful the first or second time, but eventually you’ll come to know a few familiar faces, and that way collegiate feelings lie.
You’ve got a polished manuscript, now what? It’s time to pitch your book to a publisher! Check out our Query Letter services to see how JEC can help keep your book out of the slush piles.
Do It Online
So maybe what we said about needing to leave your house was a bit of a white lie. Getting out there and shaking some hands is certainly a healthy way to do it, but it’s not the only way to find your literary cohort. A lot of authors flock to the internet (specifically Twitter) to find like-minded folks, and it works! Tossing out some tweets about your own writerly life and engaging with other writers, editors, and publishers can be an effective way to create a community. If you think about it, it’s kind of the perfect plan; you get to meet other writers and industry professionals, and you don’t even have to change out of your pyjamas.
Get Your Work Out There
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: submit your work to contests, to magazines, and to prospective editors (like us!). Not only is it a great way to get some publishing credits and knowledge about how the industry works, but it gets your name out there and your head in the game. The more you submit and are successfully published, the more your name will be recognized. It really is one of the best ways to meet new people and make connections, all while furthering your own writing career.
Start a Club
Okay, bear with us; we aren’t talking about your typical book club where you sit in a near-stranger’s living room eating antipasto. That kind of book club is important, of course, but we’ve got something a bit different in mind. Start off by reading and discussing novels—or poems, or whatever it is that suits you as a group of writers—then branch out. Begin swapping your own work, or doing short writing exercises while you’re together (the Pomodoro technique is a popular and effective one). If you’re in need of a healthy critique, workshop one another. Not only is this a good way to get to know new people who are interested in writing and literature, but as you get to know one another, you’ll become more comfortable sharing your work. Start by inviting a friend and asking them to bring a plus one, and so on, or post the event on Meetup, Facebook, or elsewhere where likeminded writers are able to find it.
Your writing club doesn’t have to be a formal bi-weekly gathering, or as highbrow as Bloomsbury. It can be whatever you want it to be, made up of as many or as few people as you deem fit. Finding your own literary community is all about making connections with people who will tell it to you straight, read draft after draft of your chapter/poem/book, and, perhaos most importantly, cheer you on!
Want to be a part of the JEC family? Schedule a call with Kate, our editor-in-chief, and see how you can join the many authors we’ve worked with. Or, download our Publishing Guidebook for a step-by-step guide to publishing perfection!
Editor, Writer & Founder of JEC. She's inspired, most often, to write about writing and how women (writers) can fix the world. She has a lot of opinions, actually.
Hayley is Copy Editor/ Editing Ninja for JEC. She is also an arts journalist for several online publications including Scene 360 and Illusion Magazine.
Georgia is JEC's Content Writer, a published poet, and past Poetry Editor for This Side of West, Modern and Contemporary Genre Editor for TheAlbatross, and Contributing Writer for The Martlet and Saltern Magazine.
Jaime is a Research Curator at Royal Roads University and as such knows a thing or two re: communications. She is JEC's Communications Specialist.