No matter what kind of writing you do, you will quickly discover that the life of a full-time writer can be somewhat lonely. Don’t get me wrong; there’s nothing more satisfying than the day you say goodbye to the rat race. That is, until the loneliness sets in. You may have hated your job, it may have stressed you out, but your co-workers and those you interacted with daily around the water cooler or after work formed an informal support network. When you leave your job, many people you commiserated with, shared advice with, or who helped you celebrate that big sale or project completion fade away.
As a writer, you are now living in a world that many of your old colleagues simply won’t understand. Some of them will try of course, but in the end, you are left with a void. It’s crucial that you try to fill that void so that you don’t become one of those crotchety old writers that drink too much and talk to themselves more than to actual people.
Creative writing groups are one way that writers can fill that void. These are groups of writers that interact online or even at times in person to support one another in their writing efforts. Members of your creative writing groups will get you. They won’t think twice when you talk about your main character as if they were your roommate, or wonder if you might have serial killer tendencies after the third conversation about how to get away with killing someone because they get it.
Keep in mind that creative writing groups can have a specific genre focus, or they can be a free-for-all of diverse writers in all genres. But in general, a balanced combination of supportive, dynamic writing groups can help you to:
- Figure out what to charge for your first freelance project
- Know when you’re ready to find an agent and shop your manuscript
- Find motivation and discipline to keep writing when you feel like giving up
- Help you draw out your muse or quiet your inner critic so that you can get words onto the page
- Share ideas and techniques to help you deal with characters who won’t behave as you think they should
- Connect with and commiserate with other writers in your genre
- Help you stay up to date with available writing resources as well as industry changes
- Work out world building, plot, or other issues
- Learn skills such as how to get an agent, write a query letter, or find freelance clients
- Get constructive critiques and feedback from other writers to help improve your final work.
The only thing a writer must be careful about when participating in online creative writing groups is using them to procrastinate actual writing. My suggestion is to find two or three communities that seem to inspire you, keep you motivated, or help you learn and limit your participation to no more than 1 hour or less per day. The rest of your free time should be spent putting pen to paper or fingers to the keyboard working on your project!
Now that you understand why creative writing groups are beneficial for writers, here are the ones we recommend you check out.
Personal Favorite Creative Writing Groups
- Absolute Write caters to writers of all genres from science fiction to memoir and everything in between. Whether you’re writing fiction or nonfiction, screenplay, or even ad jingles, you’ll find people here that get you. It’s an active, well-moderated community.
- Critters Workshop run by Andrew Burt and volunteers is one of my favorite places to get feedback on a project. If you are writing Fantasy, Science Fiction, or Horror, this group must be on your list to check out. Submit your piece to the queue and then spend some time reading and critiquing the work of others while you wait for your submission to get into circulation. You’ll receive constructive critiques from different members, who are serious about writing, so you get a good idea of how readers will react to your work.
Other Creative Writing Groups
Wattpad is one of the latest trends in writing communities, and it has more than 45 million members already. It’s a platform designed for writers and the readers who love them. Wattpad gives writers the opportunity to post their work one chapter at a time and make it available for readers to read and comment. If you’re a writer who is motivated and inspired by reader feedback, Wattpad may just be your cup of tea.
The Write Life Community on Facebook is a group made up of writers from all over the world who are at varying stages of the writing and publishing process. Here you’ll find brand new writers alongside published authors, just looking for advice, supporting one another, and sharing resources. Learn about new resources such as Garage Fiction, a podcast that piggybacks off the idea that if garage musicians can one day turn into Nirvana, it could work for writers too!
Calls for Submissions also on Facebook is a group designed to announce and gather calls for submissions. If you’re looking for your next writing project, this group is a good resource.
My Writer’s Circle is an active 45,000-member strong community where you can find tips on publishing, get peer reviews, or simply connect with fellow writers for some empathy and commiseration.
AgentQuery Connect is a great forum if your work is nearly ready for publishing. Get information on the industry players and marketing tactics, and find out how it all works so you can better navigate the publishing world when the time comes.
Critique Circle is one of the oldest creative writing groups online that includes the social interaction so vital to a writer’s sanity. It’s also chock full of tools to help you write more often, find motivation and ideas, and monitor your progress. Critique circle is for writers of all genres. You can also submit your story and receive feedback from others in the group.
Keep your eyes open for our own new writer’s forum which will launch in Spring 2017! In the meantime be sure to check in often at Freelance With Us for more great articles on common writing issues and struggles.