Community is important for us all, and the online world makes communities of all kinds more possible. The life of a professional writer can be isolating, so an online writers group is a great way to reach out. But the paradox is that a writer NEEDS to be alone to do what they do best. How to deal with this paradox? You will have better odds of finding the right online writing community for you if you are clear about your expectations and desires when you go Googling. Here are three things to think about:
1. Talking to other writers won’t make you a writer. Let’s face it – generating ideas, buying the tools of the trade, and hob-knobbing with people in your desired field are always the fun parts. Doing the work and sticking with it is the hard part. Your online writing community should spur you on, but not distract you.
2. Not all writers are cut from the same cloth. Before you settle in and buy an extra toothbrush, notice what genre your new online friends are writing in. As writers there will always be things to share about how to get book published and how to find writers agents. But before you invest a lot of time, you might get more mileage out of friendships with the same kinds of writers. A Christian romance novelist is a different breed from a comic book writer.
3. Feedback has a proper time and place. It is good to get clear with yourself about when feedback is actually useful to you. People can’t access your imagination. That’s why we have to create it before they “get it”. The new energy we get when we have a new idea makes it a real temptation to share right away, but it can be very deflating to have people who don’t catch your vision start poking holes in it, or even respond with less than enthusiasm. That burning need to let your creating take form is a precious gift that can be fizzled out by sharing too soon. Some writers prefer not to share their work until they are completely done with a manuscript. Writing is an intensely personal process. You have to catch your own groove to really be inspiring. We all need editors and they make our work better. But if you start writing to please other people too soon in the process, you risk loosing your unique spark.
An online writing community is a wonderful thing. And self-knowledge makes all good things great. Finding your own balance between community with solitude may be one of the golden keys to success as a writer.