Many writers feel like they’re on their own. They aren’t connected to other writers around them, and don’t have anyone to bounce questions, drafts, or ideas off-of or help them grow as a writer. Maybe they’re afraid to go online because they don’t want to share their work with others, or they’re afraid someone will laugh at their ideas. Maybe for some they never thought they could find a good place to share their work online. These are all real fears, but they stem from an ignorance of the value of online communities for writers.
Before digging into the value of online communities for writers, there are four big blocks that define the essence of communities.
- Sharing of Resources/Knowledge
- Building Skills with Efficient Practice
- Constructive Criticism
- Motivation to Create High Quality Content, Consistently
Let’s unpack these.
Sharing of Resources, Knowledge, and Ideas
Communities bring like-minded people together, often with the pursuit of the same or similar goals. Within the community there will always be varying degrees of ability, knowledge, and skill. This is by no means a detriment; in fact, this is what makes communities so strong. Every person who is a member of the community brings their own resources, abilities, knowledge, and skill, sharing them within the community and helping its members. Sharing of resources and knowledge is foundational to the next block of communities, building skills with efficient practice.
Building Skills with Efficient Practice
Communities create a space that is suited for building skills and efficient practice of those skills. As mentioned previously, communities provide an incredible place to share resources, knowledge, and ideas. More experienced members can help less experienced members through sharing their knowledge and the skills that helped them excel. A less experienced member gets practice by sharing their work within the community. Practice is extremely helpful but without feedback, or constructive criticism, a member won’t know what to work on.
The third building block of communities addresses this.
Feedback in conjunction with practice is one of the most important tools for learning or building on top of one’s skills. Communities provide a great place to get feedback from many people who each have a different viewpoint, but all have the same goal, helping others get better! Rubbing shoulders with other creators, sharing resources, knowledge, and ideas while receiving constructive criticism is an incredible motivator.
The last building block of an effective community is motivation to create high quality content, consistently.
Motivation to Create High Quality Content, Consistently
Getting practice and receiving constructive criticism is really motivating. When a member of a community continues to input, practice, and grow, they will be motivated to create more. Creating more produces the skills and experience that will allow them to create high quality content, consistently.
It’s clear that communities are a powerful tool in the development of any skill, but are specifically helpful with writing. Communities are incredible spaces, and online communities provide even more ways to share resources, get practice, receive feedback, and be pushed to create more.
Online writers’ communities have a few distinctives from interpersonal communities. These distinctives enhance the four blocks of communities and bring into view the value of online communities for writers. There are three things that make online communities distinct from other types of communities.
- Instant Feedback and Critique
- Wide Range of Viewpoints
- Ability to Easily Collaborate and Make Connections
A brief note on each of these.
Instant Feedback and Critique
Online communities never sleep, they don’t require driving to a meeting space or interacting face to face. For some people this can be a downside, but it’s incredibly helpful for writers. In an online community someone can share their work and get almost instant feedback from fellow writers. It is so helpful when working on building writing skills to get constructive feedback and critiques.
Wide Range of Viewpoints
Because of the digital nature of an online community, people from all over the world can connect and share their experience. Every person has a fresh perspective and getting many different viewpoints can be helpful when learning and growing as a writer.
Ability to Easily Collaborate and Make Connections
Online communities are great for collaboration. Shared documents, easy file sharing, and instant communication all allow many people to work on multiple projects at once from anywhere in the world. Online communities also provide a great place to make connections with other writers, and editors. Many online communities help their writers get published and many published authors are part of online communities.
These three features of online communities for writers contain great value. Having the ability to get instant feedback and meaningful critique of their work is crucial for writers. Getting help with editing, brainstorming, structuring, and publishing their work is extremely valuable. Online communities are also a great support network for writers, they can be places to test out a piece and see if it’s worth taking to an editor or publisher, or maybe testing an idea or story concept. Online communities are valuable supportive and collaborative workspaces for writers.
Online Communities to Check Out
There are many online writing communities out there, three popular sites are
Scribophile.com boasts, “1,158,911 critiques served for 198,945 works, and 4,339,370 posts in 144,943 threads in our writing forums” and has won recognition from many organizations including Writers Digest. Though not posting specific numbers Writerscafe.org and Savvyauthors.com both maintain large communities where any writer can get plugged in and receive input from other writers. Another great place to find online communities is Facebook. InspireFirst has an online writing community which can be found on Facebook!
Another great resource when writing online is forums. Forums allow readers to respond and converse about blog topics that are published on your website. This article provides an in-depth look at free and paid forum software that can greatly enhance online community engagement on your blog or website.
In an article about online communities for writers, author Wendy Van Camp provided helpful insights into a number of different online communities from her personal experience. Wendy comments in her article saying that, “online communities are well worth the time to read new stories, educate yourself about your craft, and meet new friends with similar creative interests.”
Online communities have great value for writers. They are great spaces to share resources, practice skills, get constructive feedback, and be pushed to create high quality content. Online communities have distinctive features that enhance community interaction, especially for writers. They provide quick feedback, a wide range of viewpoints, and the ability to easily collaborate and make connections. What’s holding you back? Go find an online community that fits your needs and goals as a writer and jump right in!
If you’ve already started seeking different online communities for writers, you can better contribute to the community by growing confident in your writing and influence your fellow group members.