Writers Need Community

Writing is solitary and it can be lonely. You spend lots of time in your head, perhaps wondering if anyone will even care.

While you are the only person who can put your butt in the chair and get your words on the page, your writing life will improve if you can find your people.

This is Step 3 of The 4-Step Solution to Getting Your Nonfiction Book Out of Your Head and onto the Page: Seeking Out Community.

Find your people

Here are some ways I have found my people:

Writers Conferences

In-person writers' conferences have been a huge source of writing community for me. Of course, they are mostly on hold now due to COVID-19, but when they return (and they will!), find one that speaks to your writing interests and fits your budget. When I was just starting out as a memoir writer, I attended the Southampton Writers Conference where I workshopped with luminaries such as Mary Karr and Roger Rosenblatt.

As awesome as those experiences were, what was even more valuable were the connections I made with other writers. Two of them, Lesley and Anne, have become lifelong friends and writing partners. For six years we've met (nearly) every month (virtually) to discuss short pieces of writing we've sent out in advance.

I met writing instructor Linda Lowen at Hippocamp, a conference for nonfiction writers that is conveniently held in my new hometown of Lancaster, PA (and is sadly not being held this year). Linda beckoned me over during one of our breaks, and we clicked immediately. A couple of months later, she invited me to a small group retreat she was hosting on the Outer Banks, which I said yes to. Now I have ten other writers who are my people. This is how it works!

Online forums

There are many groups for writers on Facebook, most notably the various Binders groups, which are for female-identified writers. They are a great source of information and support. Note: You need to be invited into a Binders group by another member. 

In-person meetups

Many cities have in-person writing meetups (now meeting online). The one I belong to, Lancaster Write Now, has a simple format: We meet once a month from 6:30-8:30 pm in a co-working space, share snacks and conversation for 30 minutes, write in silence for 60, and then converse and snack for 30 more. It's amazing how much writing you can get done in 60 uninterrupted minutes.

Virtual or in-person co-writing dates

I've been hosting a weekly co-writing date for my book coaching clients, which I opened up to other women writers during the COVID-19 quarantine. It's been a great simple way to get your butt in the chair and connect with other writers.

What writers have to say about the benefits of writing in community:

The co-writing group has been hugely beneficial for me and easily one of the highlights of my shelter-in-place experience. Despite my MFA and creative nonfiction publications, I still find it difficult to create a structured time to write, especially while working full-time. Suzette's co-writing group has provided a much-needed writing anchor at the start of each week. She adeptly facilitates introductions and encourages participants to pinpoint their specific goals for the co-writing time. Her astute and friendly guidance, and the fact that each of us are working on our own distinct projects, is what keeps me coming back week after week. Thank you, Suzette, for offering this writerly refuge in the middle of a viral storm! —A.D.O.

As a screenwriter and actress who spends a lot of time alone, I am more surprised than anyone at how much I am craving community during this pandemic. I am a relatively new writer, still finding my way, and figuring out how best to serve my craft. Suzette Mullen's weekly co-writing group is exactly what I needed.

Suzette offers a safe environment, with check-ins about our process at the beginning and end of the hour-long co-writing period, and provides just the accountability and camaraderie I wanted.

Whether you are a new or experienced writer, or even just someone trying to organize their pages, this is the right place for you. Suzette is there every Monday at the same time, and it is comforting to know that even if you miss a meeting, you can continue on the next week. I highly recommend it. —Alice Barden, award-winning actress & screenwriter

UPDATE: As of 9/13/2023 there are weekly co-writing sessions in my mentorship program for LGBTQ+ memoir and nonfiction writers, Write Yourself Out!

If you can't find a writing group, start one!

Your writing community doesn't have to be large or complicated. Even one other writer you can count on and trust can work. Pick a time each week to write together. Make a plan to share pages on a regular basis. Set your ground rules and boundaries and stick with them.

You don't have to write your book alone.

Find your people and share your successes and your struggles with them. The rest of the people in your life may be less interested :)

Ask your writer friends to help hold you accountable (see Step 2: Put Your Butt in the Chair). Return the favor to them. Writing is hard enough work. Finding your people makes it a little easier.


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