by Lesley-Anne Longo
Published at 2020-03-11
Writing can be an incredibly rewarding career, but it can also be, at times, a lonely one. If you are like most writers, you probably work from home (or from your local coffee shop/café/library) and don’t go into an office on a regular basis where you can interact with other likeminded individuals.
So, sometimes you have to get creative when it comes to building communities for yourself to participate in, where you can seek advice on anything from plotting to sentence structure to tips on how to get over writer’s block. No matter at what stage you are in your writing career, here are some great ways to get involved.
A writers group can be a valuable resource for any writer who is looking to network, better their craft, or simply interact with other writers. The purpose of a writers group is to help everyone involved improve their craft through both constructive criticism and praise—and you do need both. It’s important to find that balance, because all praise and no criticism means no one is able to improve, and all criticism and no praise is just discouraging.
The best part about writers groups is that there are so many of them, so it won’t be difficult to find one that you like, whether that’s an in-person meet up or an online community. Toronto offers many groups, perhaps the largest being the Toronto Writers Collective. An online option is You Write Dream, a well-known Facebook writing group that has a great positive mindset. Mibba is also a good community for writers to gain valuable feedback.
You may visit the library a lot as an avid reader, but have you ever looked into what else they might be able to offer? Many libraries host book clubs, writing groups, seminars, and lots of other interesting programming that can help writers of all ages. For example, the Toronto Public Library hosts a young writers club, a memoir writing group, a meetup called “The Joy of Writing,” plus dedicated writing groups for some individual branches, leading to a more community feel. You never know what you might be missing, so check out your local library, or others in your area!
NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) began in 1999 as a challenge for writers to write 50,000 words of a novel during the thirty days of November. NNWM is also a nonprofit organization whose coaches provide writers of all kinds with tools, structure, encouragement, and community to help them achieve their creative goals. They help writers track their progress, set milestones, connect with other writers in a huge community, and participate in events that are designed to make sure you finish your book.
Podcasts are a great way to get information of all kinds nowadays, and the subject of writing is no exception. One podcast you might want to check out is the Grammar Girl podcast, which provides short, friendly tips to improve your writing. Her grammar, punctuation, style, and business tips will make you a better and more successful writer!
A second podcast that I found really interesting as a concept is Writing Class Radio, which is simply a podcast of a writing class! As the hosts of this site say, “If you love stories and get inspired by hearing other people tell their stories and want to learn a little bit about how to write your own stories, then this podcast is for you.” They also offer workshops and classes, which are two more ways you can get involved in a writing community.
You can find writing classes of all kinds in lots of different places, including through community centres and continuing education classes (for example, The Chang School at Ryerson here in Toronto). These are great options for in-person opportunities to meet other writers and grow and learn together. If you don’t have these resources nearby, you can also look into online writing classes. A great place to start is at Jane Friedman’s website. She offers a variety of different classes for writers, and the options are always changing.
You can also see if there are writing courses at libraries near you (see? Libraries are treasure troves!). The Toronto Public Library offers many courses on the craft and business of writing, which would be great options for any writer who can access them! For a paid option, many writers enjoy the MasterClass series, which features writers such as R. L. Stine, Malcolm Gladwell, Judy Blume, and Stephen King, all of whom offer their advice and experiences to writers.
I hope this inspires you to get out there and try getting involved in a writing community or two (or more!). There are so many options now, both in-person and online, for writers to find a community that works for them and helps them reach their goals, whether that’s simply to get out of the house and talk writing for an hour or two with potential new friends, improve their craft, or finish a whole book. You can choose what you’d like to do based on your comfort level, but don’t be afraid to put yourself out there either! You never know how it might help your writing career. Good luck, and have fun!
The Editing Company offers great services to support you at every stage of your writing journey. From helping you develop your manuscript, to editing your early drafts, to finalizing your manuscript in preparation for publication. Check us out and give us a call at 416-924-3856!