The common perception of a novelist is that of isolation–writing portrayed as a lonely endeavor accomplished in a garret. The Sean Connery movie “Finding Forrester” acted out this stereotype. Yet more often, community not only provides a practical solution to the problems novelists encounter, it gives an emotional boost.
Writing Tip for Today: From large organizations to critique groups, here are 3 ways joining a writing community improves your writing:
Trends Take Root
Many art forms, including writing, benefit from the collective mind. In the 20th century schools of artists such as Bauhaus and Impressionists changed the entire canvas of the art world. Likewise, in writing, Hemingway and Raymond Carver influenced novels with the minimalist style. Communities of writers can birth new trends and take the art of writing to new levels that may not have emerged otherwise. Also, by keeping in touch with other writers, you’ll stay abreast of writing opportunities, calls for submissions and agent or editor job moves.
Scratch My Back
Another benefit of a Literary Community is that of mutual admiration. Although writers often act as if they must be in constant competition with every other writer, in practice it’s probably more productive to be ready to toot another writer’s horn rather than be jealous or hold a grudge. Think of it this way: if you tweet about an author’s successes, they may be more willing to return the favor for your work. And the more potential readers who hear your name and your titles, the more people know about your work. Readers can’t buy a book they don’t know exists. Scratch other writers’ backs generously–you’ll find it’s easier to get your back scratched AND people won’t perceive you as one of those pushy authors always shoving their book in your face and yelling, “BUY IT!”
Iron Sharpens Iron
The most important reason for community is to improve your own writing. Try to network with and hang out with the best writers you can find. Join the most advanced critique group you can. Read the best novels you can.Don’t worry too much about imitation. As you develop your own voice/style, you may imitate different writers along the way. This can only help your skills improve. When you are accountable to at lea
st one other writer, you tend to write more, revise more and learn more. Get out of the garret and let your literary community help you become the best writer you can be.