For me, writing has grown to become an important facet of my faith & recovery. Writing helps me, personally, and I know from a multitude of conversations I’ve had with others, that my writing is helping others. This is both humbling and mind-boggling.
Since making the decision to seriously pursue writing as a ministry to others and a career, I have earnestly sought for ways to hone my craft. A huge part of that journey includes belonging to several writing communities.
Can belonging to a writers group help you as a 21st century writer?
YES! I believe it can.
Whether you are a traditional or digital age writer, you will benefit from belonging to a community of writers. There are the traditional writers groups that you can find in your local area, like the Writers Guild of Texas (WGT).of which I am a member. There are also online writing communities that you can participate in like Scribophile and ProBlogger..
Since rekindling my interest in writing and because I wanted to hone my craft, I joined the Writers Guild of Texas (WGT) in the Fall of 2014 and have served on the Board of Directors since I first joined. Our Guild hosts monthly members meetings featuring a guest speaker discussing writing-related topics, either focusing on the craft or the business aspect of writing. These meetings have taught me critical lessons that have helped elevate my writing skill and sharpen my marketing awareness. The meetings are held on the 3rd Monday of each month (except in January when the meeting is held on the 4th Monday due to the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday).
Writing in the modern 21st century is a two-fold venture: creating and selling. Each writer begins with an idea and weaves a story either on paper or on their computer screen. After a long slow dance of writing, rewriting, writing, and rewriting, the author has a finished work that they now need to sell. Once it is printed, the second part of the writing life kicks in. This is hard and challenging as the actual writing. In order to get people to buy your book, you have to tell them it exists and that they’d be better for reading it. I have found that belonging to a local writers group like the WGT has benefited me greatly by educating me in both of these areas of responsibility.
In addition to the monthly members meetings, the WGT also facilitates a monthly in-person critique group. Several members and non-members writers meet in the Basement of the Richardson Public Library on the 3rd Wednesday of each month to read and critique each others work. This interaction is critical to helping writers who are serious about developing their skills and producing a publishable work. Hearing your story read and getting immediate reader feedback is invaluable. WGT also maintains an online critique group on Scribophile that is available to all WGT members. Writers engage in discussions, participate in forums, and post their work for critique by fellow members.
I have found participating in my local writers group has helped me build a sense of belonging by strengthening my writing and growing my writing community. Belonging to WGT has helped me discover other writing communities, both in-person and online. Through workshops and group activities, I have met people I would have not met otherwise. Many of these people have played a significant role in improving my writing, including growing this blog.
Last year, I had the opportunity to collaborate with fellow writer/blogger Kathryn McClatchy, and her service dog Gizmo, for a presentation on how bloggers can make their voice heard amid a sea of 150 million blogs. Kathryn and I have also guest-posted on each others blogs, something that came out of working together on the Board of the Writers Guild.
Through my participation in a local writing community, I have also been able to identify my niche’ and hone my writers voice. You’ll find that almost everyone is writing a book. Those that aren’t, are probably thinking about it. Thanks to technology and economics, there are more avenues available to get your work published. You no longer have to rely on the Big Five publishing houses (of course, the other side of the coin is that if you want to be published the old-fashioned way, the Big 5 is who you’ll need to impress with your manuscript–and space and time is limited).
Finally, being part of a writing community has grown my arsenal of resources like the blogging website and podcast ProBlogger. Truthfully, I had no real concept of podcasting before joining the guild. Writer/blogger Jeff Goins and the worship blog WorshipMinistry.com are also resources that I discovered through my being engaged in a writing community. Seeking to expand my writing community, I recently joined the Writers League of Texas. Through joining a writing community, you’ll discover new opportunities, identify helpful resources, and build lifelong friendships.
It has been my personal experience that belonging to a writers group has opened doors and shown me avenues that I would not have discovered on my own. Best of all, it has introduced me to a ton of great people that I would not have met otherwise. It has introduced me to other writers and bloggers who are passionate about similar topics—like faith, worship, writing, and recovery–that I’m passionate about. You will meet people who share your interests as well. Speaking writer to writer, blogger to blogger—I would strongly encourage you to find a local community of writers near you. I believe you’ll find it to be a blessing in disguise.