Building on what I talked about last week, community is essential to grow your writing. Why?
- Others look at your work with a different eye than you do and so can spot problems
When we write and then edit our work, it’s hard to see problem spots for the simple reason that we don’t know what we don’t know yet. We know what we’re trying to say and what we meant to say, so our brain can easily fill in holes and details that are missing.
When others look, they aren’t privy to all the background work and information, so they can better discern where problems lie and when something just doesn’t make sense.
Also, they aren’t attached to the pieces within our work like we are so it’s easier for them to suggest cuts, even if they’re painful to us. I’ve had several times where people suggested cutting a scene and I hemmed and hawed trying to get it to work. Of course, once I finally cut it, the piece was better. We can get so attached to our work and our ideas that it’s hard to step back and know when that scene just needs to go.
- Writing in community provides accountability and sometimes motivation
Ever have a day where you don’t want to write? Yeah, me too.
My community helps me to keep writing even if it’s just by sharing what they’re writing or working on.
I also am motivated to write because I know that I can ask people for help. Last week, I was working on a short story that I wanted to submit to a short story contest and I had two people give SO generously of their time. I ultimately didn’t submit because I didn’t feel it was ready, but I learned a lot about writing suspense. I also learned more about what makes short stories work and what doesn’t.
I think with more thought and more work, it could be a good short story (and probably a couple thousand more words) and something worth submitting. I’m now also indebted to helping others out, which is a good thing! They know that they can come to me for help if they want or need it. Am I as good of a writer as they are? Not by a long shot. But do I still have something to offer them in terms of critique? Absolutely.
- Being around those who write in different styles can give you a creative boost in your own writing and your own genre.
Becoming more familiar with horror and suspense helps me to think of different elements to incorporate into my fantasy. I learn about building tension and how to portray something horrible without being too graphic or gory.
A good story has many elements in it, but if I never explore these other elements, then I can’t build them into my current story.
Writing communities can be found everywhere and, as always, I highly suggest finding one that works for you.
If you don’t have a community yet, why not? If you do, what’s your favorite part about your writing community?