by Amy S. Cutler
The Importance of Finding a Writing Community
To be honest, part of the pull of being a writer was the aloneness of it. Writing is not a group activity, and therefore it fits my persona pretty well. Of course, I am not a full-time writer. I work with the public for many months of the year, which is probably why I daydream about being alone with my thoughts, computer, and nature.
It wasn’t until I went to graduate school for my MFA in creative writing that I learned the importance of having a writing community. For the first time ever, I felt like I had found my people. Total strangers, many of us were introverts, some of us not, but we had one major thing in common: we all saw the world a little bit differently, and we all wanted to write about it.
After I graduated, I was lucky enough to be invited by a writer that had graduated a semester before me to join a speculative fiction writing group. We meet virtually, and not only is each member an excellent writer, but they are kind and constructive, as well. They keep me writing during times where I may have paused. Even a well-timed writing prompt can pull one out of their thoughts and get words on a page. I do not know how the world sees me, which role I fill to the people around me. But to this group of people, I am a writer. They push me to be better, and for that I am eternally grateful.
I cannot stress enough how much finding a writing community has helped me. Just being with and talking to other writers gets ideas flowing. Feedback on a work in progress can be invaluable. More than that, talking to other writers gives you insight as to what is out there that you may not know about, what anthologies or journals are opening for submission, what are the big contest winners doing to be noticed. Craft talks, book clubs, writing nights – they are all imperative so that we can keep each other moving forward. I have never felt in competition with any writer that I know, and I am always so happy and proud when someone I know is published.
While I used to think that writers were separate from one another, I now know that the opposite is also true. Writers need to bond together, for that is how we get better, and these are the people we celebrate the wins with. Living behind a computer screen or inside a notebook was great, but once I learned that it was safe to peek out and interact, I learned that I was not alone. I am part of a large community of amazing and talented people, and I am proud to call a few of those people my friends.