The life of a writer is pretty solitary, both by design and necessity. While you may find yourself in the neighborhood coffee shop a few days a week just for a change of pace, being a writer can be lonely and quiet.
Well-meaning as they are, your friends and family don’t understand the nuance between conflict and crisis. Try as they might, they can’t relate to the complexity of creating a consistent voice. And, heaven help them, they’ll never get the agony of choosing between traditional and self-publishing.
It’s no wonder that writing and alcohol are familiar companions.
But it’s not happy hour yet. Here’s the good news: you’re not alone. In fact, right this moment, writers just like you are actively participating in writing communities all over the web. It’s time that you meet.
But first, you may be wondering, what’s the point of joining a writing community? I’m glad you asked, because there’s a lot of compelling reasons to join. Let’s break it down:
Have you ever gotten to a point in your story where something just doesn’t sound right, but you can’t figure it out? You don’t want to ask your friends and family for their opinion because, let’s be honest, they’ll just say it sounds great to avoid hurting your feelings (even when you know it doesn’t).
Submitting a difficult piece to your writing community allows you to get honest, actionable feedback while you’re still working on your manuscript.
+Support & Encouragement
Writers understand other writers. They understand what it’s like to fall in love with a character, to struggle with dialogue, and to build entire worlds from scratch. These are your people. You need an environment where you can talk to fellow writers who struggle in the same areas you do. Those people can also help pull you from the mire of despair when the going gets tough, and they’ll motivate you to write those last thousand words.
After you’ve written and edited your book, you can ask your writing community to review your book. Swapping reviews is a popular practice. It’s free and easy to do, and a win-win for both writers.
So, what is a beta reader? Beta readers can help catch common, easy to fix mistakes such as detail inconsistencies, that you’ll most likely miss after having read over the manuscript 300 times. Often the most important thing beta readers can offer is the indication that something is wrong. They may not know how to fix it or may not offer the right suggestion, but they’ll alert you to the fact that X isn’t working.
If you’re self-publishing, you’ll need to get marketing savvy quickly. In addition to subscribing to our blog, get thee involved in a writing community where you can learn a lot of interesting marketing tricks and techniques from seasoned pros.
Also, most online writing communities have a dedicated space for writers to promote their books. Share your book with a wider audience.
Now that you’re fully convinced on the benefits of becoming an active member in an online writing community, let’s look at the very best ones to join (in alphabetical order) :
Absolute Writer is a popular and passionate writer’s forum on everything from politics to science fiction (which may in fact be the same thing). It welcomes writers of all genres, including novels, non fiction, screenwriting, and greeting cards.
Why Join? This community is well moderated and extremely popular. You’ll find kindred spirits here.
AgentQuery Connect is a great place to go for critiques and feedback. If you’re further along in the writing process and would love to know how to get an agent, for example, this is the go-to writing community. Check out successful query letters and learn about marketing your book after it’s published.
Why Join? There’s plenty of advice for after you’ve completed your manuscript and are interested in shopping it around. Find out what needs to be done by those who’ve been there/ done that.
BookRix is a community for independent writers who are interested in self-publishing. While the site BookRix does provide writers with self-publishing help, its community is full of diverse topics that can help any writer improve and commiserate (or both!).
Why Join? You’ll enter an established book community with lots of activity.
Established in 2003, Critique Circle is one of the oldest writing communities online. The majority of members are young adults between 21 to 30. As the name implies, members take advantage of critique help, but there’s also a chill vibe for this site. For example, a popular thread at the time of this post is word association.
Why Join? Join for critique help and camaraderie. You may lose hours interacting with other writers in this community, and that’s a good thing every now and then.
For all you sci-fi, fantasy, or horror writers out there, here’s the group for you. While it’s not the most active community out there, there’s a lot of genre specific nuggets you’ll love to read.
Why Join? This board is a must-join for the sci-fi, fantasy, or horror crowd.
Covering topics ranging from generic (writing advice) to detailed (cover design) to off the wall (From Gaga to Godfather), this community is both fun and engaging. The boards are extremely active and welcoming. It’s the perfect group to get started.
Why Join? This community is well-designed, easy to navigate, and offers an active board.
While the Hatrack River Writers Workshop forum has an old school look and feel, there’s plenty of fresh ideas and energetic discussions.
Why Join? Get involved in vibrant discussions about developing character and plot. Learn more about improving your writing from fellow writers.
Mibba skews young, but it’s welcoming to any age group. Mibba users create blogs and write narrative posts or stories that can then be critiqued by other members. It’s a great community for young writers who need extra support.
Why Join? This community nurtures young authors by providing an active community, opportunities for collaboration, and peer feedback.
Short for National Novel Writing Month, NaNoWriMo is something of a revolution that challenges writers everywhere to write an entire novel in one month. Crazy, but scores of dedicated fanatics have proven it’s possible.
Why Join? This is a wildly popular community that provides tons of support and writing strategies.
In this community, you’ll find writers who offer professional, no-fluff feedback. There’s not a lot of random activity here, but rather a more somber discourse on writing.
Why Join? Join for professional critique from established writers.
Last but certainly not least is Reddit. Reddit features a subreddit dedicated to write and another to writing. Confusing, right? Just join both. Both subreddits are active and popular, and great for a quick hit of inspiration.
Why Join? Where else can you see this treat: Knowing your character rules and boundaries is essential; here’s Chuck Jones’ cheat sheet for the Coyote and Roadrunner?
Joining a writing community is one of the best things you can do to improve your morale and hone your skills. While these communities are completely free, you’ll be amazed at how much value they add to your life.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on November 2015 and has been updated for accuracy.