by Lesley-Anne Longo
Published at 2023-06-07
Writing can mean spending a lot of time on your own, but that doesn’t mean a writer’s life should be a solitary one! There are lots of ways you can get involved in the writing community, whether you’re looking to network, make friends, get some feedback, or just become more social in general.
If you have a blog or website, try posting some book reviews and circulate them via social media. Think of it as trying to connect the books you enjoy with other readers who will also enjoy them. This can help you meet readers who share similar interests with you, and you’re also doing your part to help promote and support other authors.
You can use a website/app like Goodreads to track and review what you’ve read, and cross-post longer reviews to your blog or website. You can also become a volunteer book reviewer—the American Library Association has a volunteer reviewer program, and you can even volunteer your time for journals or magazines who need reviewers.
In addition to volunteering as a book reviewer, you can also become a volunteer in other ways. You can of course volunteer at your local library, or even a regional library association. You can check out volunteer-run bookstores in your area as well—for example, Toronto’s Glad Day bookshop has a volunteer page program.
You can also volunteer with literary events that take place in your community. The Toronto International Festival of Authors has a volunteer program, as does the Festival of Literary Diversity (FOLD). If you have a bookish festival or event that you know is taking place in your area (or an organization that puts on such events), reach out to see if they need volunteers.
Another option is to check out the Canadian Authors Association for volunteer positions that have to do with social media management, marketing, research, and more.
One way to give back and meet people with similar interests can be becoming a mentor, if you’re an experienced author with some publishing experience under your belt. There are lots of mentoring programs available (depending on location), and even some virtual ones.
For example, Girls Write Now is a virtual program based out of New York that empowers young women by encouraging them to tell their stories and providing them with mentors. Girls attending public high schools are paired with writers and digital media professionals who have volunteered to help the next generation hone their craft. As a mentor, you would help your mentee develop her writing skills, explore other modes of expression, and develop a portfolio for internship and college applications.
If you’re a new author, think about becoming a mentee yourself. The Writers’ Trust of Canada offers a mentorship program that connects unpublished writers with an established literary mentor. You do have to apply to get in, but it’s a great opportunity for authors new to the publishing field. You’ll not only get access to great advice and feedback, but you’ll also make a strong connection with someone who is already established in the literary world.
The Writers’ Union of Canada has a great list of mentorship programs available nationally in Canada and by province, so that’s a great place to start if you’re interested in becoming a mentee.
Critique circles (also known as crit circles) are a great way to hone your craft and connect with other writers. Some more well-known ones are Now Novel, WattPad, NaNoWriMo, and Scribophile.
Crit circles offer great resources, such as forums for discussion, the ability to leave feedback on works that are in progress or finished drafts, webinars, and workshops. Each one is a bit different, so do some research and see which one will be a better fit for you.
For example, some crit circles offer more of a social atmosphere, whereas others are more focused on getting a project done. Most importantly, you want to be able to see a strong sense of participation and activity in whatever circle you choose. There should be lots of current feedback and critiques being posted, and the forums should be active.
It can be intimidating when trying to make new connections or join an established group, but remember: Everyone has to start somewhere! I have no doubt that if you are kind and you keep at it, you’ll have new connections and friends in no time!
For even more ways to get involved, check out our 2020 blog, 5 Amazing Resources for Writers: How You Can Get Involved In the Writing Community.
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