With a revival of writing zeal, I’ve stumbled on some pretty great new tools for getting past writers block! There are several that have been added to the personal toolbox recently, and they deserve highlights.
A good community is hard to find, especially on the internet. Since graduation, there haven’t been a lot of chances to get with other writers and talk about the craft. It can get lonely and discouraging when you happen to be the only person you know as into what you do. Logical solution? Join a group!
I’ve joined a few, and I was looking for some specific things. First, I wanted a place to network. If you don’t know someone who does what you want to do for a living, then it makes it hard to know what to do to get there. Talking with a published author can give you amazing insight into what the world of writing-for-profit is really like. You gain notoriety this way, and in a lot of ways your efforts get validated by association with a community. When you have a skill, you should look for places where that skill is valued so you can move up from there and find encouragement.
I was also looking for a community that encouraged positive and constructive feedback. Anyone involved in a hobby, especially in a kind of art, wants to feel good about what they’ve done. It’s exceptionally gratifying to have someone say they like your painting, or your quilt, or whatever. Unfortunately, if you want to grow, you can’t have people telling you you’re wonderful all the time. Sure, it feels nice, but if no one points out your pie crust could be crisper, or your drawing would look nice in charcoal pencil rather than pastels, then you might never try to improve it. My ideal community would have discussion for this activity, directed to the growth of all those involved.
Finally, this had to be an active group. For anyone who’s looked to be social on the internet, it’s easy to know which sites/forums/communities are active. People need to be posting, and consistently. The most recent post shouldn’t be more than a few days old. Any more than that, and any question you stick up there is going to be ignored for who knows how long. In an active community, you have the best chance of getting the help you need when you need it. I can’t afford to sit around on a scene for ages, waiting for someone to click a link and see I’m looking for a name for my character from Fischbeck, Germany! On the flip-side, it needs to be a place where you would be willing to check in more than just a couple of times a week. You need to want to be there, and be kept busy.
In the end, I found a couple of groups and took the plunge. The first is the American Night Writers Association. This is in affiliation with my church, and chapters exist across the nation. They meet in-person, which I felt was important to my development as a writer. We meet once a month and get to sit down, face to face with other women who share our passion for writing. They have gatherings, conventions, trips, and events essential for networking purposes, and each meeting is a workshop session for those who bring work to read aloud and get constructive feedback.
The other group is an exceptionally active online community of writers at Writing.Com. Here I found contests, activities, forums, and groups that allowed me to personalize my involvement, critique others’ work, and communicate across the world with other members. I’ve been involved since July and have only fallen more in love with the resources they have available. Even better, the initial membership is free, and can stay free for as long as you like at the basic level.
Thanks to reaching out like this, I’ve never been more productive. I’m energized, and the ideas are flowing! Even better, the motivation to follow through on the inspiration is getting stronger.