Writing is hard. The craft is hard, the business is hard, the industry is hard. Regardless of where you are in your career, you’ve experienced some of this hardship. Because it isn’t going to get any easier – sorry! – the best way to get through it is to become part of a writing community.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: that’s scary. But don’t worry, I’m not telling you to inject yourself into a random writing community (yet). No, what I mean is that you should create a support system for yourself so that you have a writing community. (Look out for how I did it in a later blog post!) It doesn’t matter whether that community consists of one or two people; all you need are people around you to form a writing community of your own. Here’s why.
One: You need to not feel alone.
Writing is an isolating activity. You spend most of your time working by yourself in a world you’ve created yourself. That means you’re spending a lot of time in your own head. Which makes getting bad news – a bad review, a rejection – a million times harder. This is where your support system comes in. When you’re part of a writing community, your writer friends know what setbacks in your career feel like. They’ll be able to comfort you while being honest with you. When I reach out after something upsets me, I usually end up feeling stronger and less alone. Which is important since I’m not alone. Our experiences are common. And knowing that steadies you in the face of setbacks.
Two: You need people who understand.
This is closely related to number one, and is the reason I’m writing this blog post in the first place. As an author, you go through experiences that are unique to your career. And as much as you love your *insert loved one*, they won’t understand what a rejection or an inconsistent income, for example, can do to your mental and emotional health.
But you know who does? Your writing community. Because they’ve been there – or are there – and they know how much it sucks. Or how much a great review or a new contract boosts morale. You need people like this in your life, and so naturally, in your career, too.
Three: They help you improve your craft.
Most of my writing friends have read my work. They’ve made an effort to buy it, review it, and if I have a really good relationship with them, they give me feedback. Because of these conversations, I’ve been able to improve my characterisation, my storylines, and my dialogue. They are my sounding board when I’m trying to figure out a plot hole. And they often offer insight into my writing from a reader’s perspective.
Because writing is such an emotionally charged activity, you have to have the right people around you to help you recharge. That’s why you need a writing community. To keep you sane – and healthy – through a tough career.