Writers have been friends with each other throughout history, corresponding, supporting, admiring, encouraging. They’ve enjoyed one another’s company at parties and have exchanged their manuscripts for critiques. Isn’t it fascinating to think of how great writers, like Louisa May Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Henry David Thoreau, and Charlotte Bronte and Elizabeth Gaskell, moved in the same circles and talked about literature and other stimulating subjects?
Friendships like that inspired me to start a writers’ club several years ago. I’d decided to seriously pursue writing for publication, and a necessary stepping stone is to cast the net wider for opinions other than your family members’. I wasn’t involved much online then, so I invited friends who were also interested in writing to my house once every two weeks (on a Wednesday). We’ve been meeting regularly for three or four years—they have been different friends, but the meetings are always structured the same, and we haven’t tired of them. (How can you get tired of reading new installments of exciting stories?)
We use our meetings as a time to read our works-in-progress, thus offering 1) accountability and commitment, 2) instant feedback, 3) an opportunity to hear your writing read aloud (which is excellent for editing), 4) inspiration, 5) community, 6) an antidote against discouragement, and 7) a fun time with like minds! Something about tangibly scheduling writing and writing-related activities into your days makes your goals all the more real and attainable. And let’s face it … writers are known for easily succumbing to discouragement, distraction, and procrastination (or is it just me?).
You may not live near other writers where a writers’ club is feasible, but if you do, I really encourage you to think about forming one! You can have one friend or five (be careful about getting too big, because then not everyone gets a chance to share their writing). The agenda can be anything you like, so long as reading your scribblings are the focus. Refreshments are fun if you like doing that (not me!); you could open in prayer, or play a little game. You could meet in a living room, a library, or a garden. For me, I need the meetings to be as simple as possible if they’re going to fit into my life, so all we do is read in my living room, but for you, the sky’s the limit! Schedule a special outing or bring in a published author as a guest every so often to keep monotony at bay. Just don’t forget that reading or discussing your stories are top priority.
As I’m sure most of you know, online is the place for writers to congregate. So if online is the only writing community you have, don’t be afraid to make friends! You can ask if anyone is up for starting a writers’ group. You can find beta-readers. If you’re a serious writer, community can definitely help you with your weak spots. For example, I’m a consistent, careful writer and would write even if I couldn’t publish, but marketing and promotion is hard for me. If it weren’t for the writing community I know online, my marketing would be nil because I wouldn’t be motivated to even learn how to do it. But seeing others do it is a vital hand-up.
Writing is solitary, but that doesn’t mean you can’t talk about it with other writers, take their advice, and use it to connect with others and expand your life. God made us to help and live in fellowship with each other, and writing is no exception!
Are you part of a writers’ club, or have someone you can talk about writing with? What is your idea of a good writers' meeting?
Kelsey Bryant is an author, blogger, and copy editor who loves the Lord. She revels in many things: the beauty of God's Word, the music of English, the wonder of nature, the joy of creativity, the freedom of motion, the richness of literature, the intrigue of history ... and much more. To learn more about her, visit her website or blog.