Posted by: Kerry Gans | May 1, 2014

Why Writing Communities are Important

The stereotype of the solitary writer is firmly ingrained in our culture. And, in truth, we are all alone when we write, even if we meet up with other writers to write in a group. However, being a writer with no writing community is a certain path to fast burnout, and can lead to depression and isolation.

Having other writers around to understand the pain of rejections, to help walk you through the minefield of publishing, to simply understand the joy of finding the right title for your book, is undeniable. But there is another asset to being part of a writing community: creativity.

Simply being in a group of other writers can charge my batteries. Start throwing ideas around, and the buzz is almost a roar. Synergy does exist, and sometimes a passing comment from another writer can spark an idea or a solution to a creative problem.

I now have 4 publishing credits to my name, and none of them would have come about without my writing community. At first glance, my short story, TO LIGHT AND GUARD (adult psychological horror), my novel, OZCILLATION (a middle grade sci-fi retelling of the Wizard of Oz), and my short story, DYING BREATH (YA contemporary) have little in common, other than my byline. However, every one of them was sparked by a writing prompt exercise in classes with Jonathan Maberry. (In case you are wondering, the prompts were: “Write what scares you most,” “Rewrite when Dorothy meets the Scarecrow in a different genre,” and “Combine these two ideas: organ transplant and Afghanistan.”)

My fourth publishing credit is a poem, THE TOWERS STOOD, and it is an example of how a writing community can expand your knowledge base. I rarely write poetry, but wrote this and felt it was strong. A friend in the writing community, Diane Sismour, pointed me to a poetry anthology that was a perfect fit (World Healing, World Peace 2014). And with my novel, OZCILLATION, Jonathan Maberry once again weighed in, suggesting I try Evil Jester Press, where it has now found a home. In both cases, I had no knowledge of either outlet, and so my writing community became my extended brain.

A writing community stirs the creative pot and helps us through the publishing maze, but most of all, a community gives us a safe place to experiment with our writing. They will catch us when we fall, and cheer us when we succeed.

I am very lucky to be a part of the vibrant writing community that has grown up from the seeds planted in Doylestown almost 10 years ago. Under the nurturing wings of The Liars Club members, this community has grown and flourished, bound together by the single ideal that we will get farther working together than we will alone—that a rising tide lifts all boats. From what I have witnessed over the years, that seems to be the case. Many success stories are rolling in from this community, and I’m sure there are many more to follow.

How about you? How has your writing community (or lack of one) impacted your career or writing life?

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