To listen to the audio recording of this post and my interview with Hannah, click here.
If you’re reading this, you’re probably a writer. And if you found this post, it means you’re probably following me on social media. And if you’re following me there, then you’re probably a member of the #writingcommunity.
But let’s just say for a moment that you’re not. Let’s say you’re a new-ish writer, and you happened to stumble upon this post. There might be some of you out there. What, then, is the writing community?
Joining the writing community on Twitter and Instagram, for example, is one of the most important steps you can take as a writer. Surrounding yourself with other writers is where you can really start to learn and grow as a writer. So many doors will be opened for you, you won’t even realize it.
When I joined the writing community a year ago, I had no idea what it was all about, but I knew I wanted to try and put myself out there. I’d read a few articles online stating that building up an audience is important when you first become a writer—even before you have any books sold. Before you query, before you do any of that stuff. Build up a platform. Build your audience, get everything rolling, have somewhere where people can go and read your stuff, read about you, find out what you’re all about. So I made my accounts and jumped in. I learned how to use hashtags effectively, what times people generally use the various platforms, what they use them for, etc. I looked for writers in my genre, or who shared similar interests as me. And I came upon this one group called #momswritersclub, run by author Jessica Payne. She hosts bi-weekly chats, mostly for moms who write—but it’s open to anyone, really. Every other week, we’d look for her questions—she usually posts about six—and reply to them. In doing that, I opened myself to conversations with fellow writers. I’d get replies on my answers to the questions, and I’d respond to others’ replies. It’s a really wonderful way to mingle in a virtual world and get your brain thinking about writing.
And just as a side note—stay tuned, because Jessica will be coming on the podcast, so I’m super excited about that!
One of those Twitter chat nights, not long after I joined the group, Jessica posted a tweet to help find critique partners. And I knew how important that was, so I was really interested in taking part in that. If we were looking for a critique partner (CP), we posted who we are, what genre we write in, what we’re looking for in a CP, and also, what we can offer in return. I met a few fantastic CPs this way! And I can’t tell you how important it is to have this. It’s crucial. It’s an essential part of the writing process. You need to have trusted people that you can bounce ideas off of, brainstorm, exchange pages with, and critique entire manuscripts with. This is CRUCIAL to the writing process. It doesn’t matter how great of a writer you are; you can’t possibly be ready to query or to publish without having this as part of your process. I’ve said this before: your brain knows what your story is, but those ideas don’t always translate properly to the page. You’ll miss things, I can guarantee it. A fresh set of eyes can help you see what you’ve missed. Please don’t skip this step! It’s so important for you, your growth, and for the sake of the agents you’re querying.
It also connects you with other writers, and that’s a really wonderful feeling. When you’ve connected. When you’ve found a small group of writers who you really jive with.
The momswritersclub can be found on Twitter at #momswritersclub and also look for them on the You Tube channel, which is co-hosted by Sara Read. So Jessica can be found @authorjesspayne and Sara can be found @sarareadauthor.
I’ve since also been a regular participant of the bi-weekly #thrillsandchills chat; this is geared toward horror, thriller, mystery, and suspense writers. If you follow me, you’ll know that’s what my vibe is (mostly!). We get together in the same fashion and answer questions that bring on discussions about our writing. It can spark ideas, make us realize something we’ve missed, it can help with finding comps, etc. The questions in both of these groups are always fun, interesting, and really make me think.
And speaking of comps, these are really important to nail down for each book you write. If you’re going the traditional publishing route, this helps the agent get an idea of what your book will give them in the sense of plot, tone, character dynamics, writing style, etc. It also helps the publisher know where to position your book in the market. If you’re going the self-publishing route, the latter also applies. You need to know where to put your book when you’re marketing it, so knowing the genre and some comparable books (tv shows, movies, even songs or artists) is essential.
Another Twitter chat is #promptsandcomps, and it’s relatively new, but it’s a great place to go to find comps for your novel and to help others find comps.
The questions in these groups are always fun, interesting, and make me really think about my writing.
Great discussions are so wonderful in the writing community!
And you know what? The writing community is just a really nice place to be. You know that you’re surrounded by fellow writers that understand you and what it means to be a writer. We may all be writing different stories, but we share so much in common and talking about it can put a smile on your face, a laugh when you need it, and motivation when you’ve lost your writing mojo. We help each other when we’re stuck, we share in the joy of celebrating things—big successes or small ones, it’s all worthy of celebration. We also encourage each other and cheer each other on.
Another great thing about the writing community is that you can literally just dive in. No one cares if you’ve never been there before. The virtual world has allowed us to mingle sans anxiety. We have the safety of being behind our screens, and we don’t have to hide in the corner watching everyone else dancing and chatting in their little clique-y groups and pray that no one approaches us. We don’t have to spend an hour or more getting ourselves dressed and looking presentable. We can get the benefit of being surrounded by other wonderful, supportive people… from the comfort of our own homes (and sometimes pyjamas, let’s be honest).
Take advantage of that. Jump in with both feet. Join in conversations. Introduce yourself and what you write. If you’re scrolling by and you see a post that resonates with you, comment on it. Always be positive and uplifting, and that’s what you’ll get in return. Yes, there are a few arseholes out there who make rude and berating comments, but you know what you do with them? Ignore them. Don’t reply, just go to their account, and block them. Done.
The writing community has given me:
- Agent info
- Writing chats
- Critique partners
- Writing groups
- Beta readers
- Querying tips
- Pitch events
- And did I mention friendship? A writing bestie?
Just follow these tips:
Create your author account—if you’re using a pen name, go ahead and use that
Put something in your Bio—to be honest, if I don’t see a bio, I don’t follow. Tell us that you write, what genre you write in, if you have anything published, if you’re represented by an agent, even something fun and quirky about you. I love quirkiness! If you have something in your bio, you’ll get people following you, because they’ll see like interests in you.
Use hashtags efficiently and effectively. Don’t go crazy with them, but if you want to get seen and have people interact with you, you need to use some hashtags. Try #writingcommunity, #writer, #writers, #author, #authors, #amwriting, #amquerying, #amediting, #learning, #listening, #podcast, #podcasting, #blog, #bookreview, etc. There are really so many out there. You just have to use ones that are relevant to each post. You can search for and follow #kfoxxdaily for my daily writing questions—join in and engage with other people who answer. It’s a great way to get involved in the writing community and chat with other like-minded writers.
Post daily if you can
Join in on writing chats. If you post a question asking what writing chats there are and use writing hashtags, people will answer and soon you’ll have a few options listed. Search the hashtag for those chats and see what others chat about, find out when the next one is, and join in!
Use the writing community as a way to connect with other writers, and also to get some answers to your questions. You’re going to have questions while you’re writing, and you never know who’s out there who might be an expert about the things you’re wondering about. So just tweet it out, Instagram it out. Whatever platform you use, ask the question, use the hashtags, and get some answers.
People are way more welcoming than you might realize!
I encourage it. I recommend it. In fact, I would say you’d be doing yourself a disservice by *not* joining. You’ll make friends, I promise.
There are so many writers out there, many of whom are in the same stage you’re in, and many who have been there who you can learn from. You might even find your own xwriting bestie!
And on that note, I’d like to introduce MY writing bestie, Hannah Sharpe, a fellow writer and mom. We met via #momswritersclub and connected during the CP match near the beginning of this year. We clicked immediately! We exchanged pages, knew we were a good fit for each other, and now we’ve gone beyond just being writing friends. We might be on opposite sides of the continent, but we chat pretty much every day. We send each other pages for our manuscripts, queries, synopses, pitches, we brainstorm together, we send voice messages over Facebook Messenger, we encourage each other and share in each other’s successes and challenges. We have the same dream agent and have goals to be agented sisters. And aside from that, we chat about other things: Momming. Challenges in our lives. Similar pasts. Things that are important to us that have nothing to do with writing.
In the words of Bianca Marais and Lily King, we found our Muriel! (To get what that means, listen to this wonderful episode of The Shit No One Tells You About Writing!) So it’s only natural that Hannah would be my first guest on the show! I’m so excited!
Hannah Sharpe resides in the Pacific Northwest of the US with her husband and three young children. She writes in Women’s Fiction with elements of suspense and is a member of WFWA. Hannah also runs a blog called The Parenting Rollercoaster wherein she posts about the ups and downs of parenting. She has a master’s in nursing education and a background in emergency nursing.
Thanks so much for reading! See you in the writing community!
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