• Madison Siwak

Don't Be a Victim to Solitude.

by Crystal Cervantes

It's easy to fall victim to solitude that shifts into rituals of confinement. For most writers, this is the way we create magical worlds that encompass adventurous themes that allow us to escape our mundane reality. It's not until we look up from our stories that we realize we've grown accustomed to creating alone.

But I have a tip for you—you do not have to be alone in your creative process. There are various writing communities for you that will change the way you bring stories to life.

I joined my first writing group earlier this year. I was afraid, and I'm not a huge fan of change.

Talking to new people is not my favourite thing as I often worry that I’ll run out of things to say but talking about writing with like-minded people—that's amazing. Since the first day I logged in to my virtual writing group, I grew deeper into my writing. I have a community that is cheering me on and wants me to grow and succeed. Since joining, I’ve had various opportunities that I wouldn’t have had if not immersed and surrounded by writers and writing.

If you're new to the whole writing community idea and you're undecided or afraid to take that step, let me offer you some advice. A few key things to look for when joining a writing group or signing up for a writing class/conference.

Safety in growth and sharing is vital. It's already nerve-racking to take something you've created and expose it to the world, let alone a group of people. You have placed every ounce of your time, energy, and heart into your work. Be sure to pick a space that allows you to grow while maintaining absolute confidence in your writing. It will feel incredibly uncomfortable as you tackle a new environment and create new habits. Listen to the advice given by those in entirely different writing journeys and know if it works for you great, and if it doesn't, something else will.

Feedback is a necessary evil. Alone we cannot see the holes in our story but handing it off to a critique partner or beta reader will be key to expanding the potential of your story. They will catch grammar errors and help with plot holes and theme deviations that need to be fixed. Feedback should be given in a way that allows your writing to grow and your story to reach its potential. We all need to hear what doesn't work in our story and use their feedback to make it better. Find a community that understands that feedback is a tool meant for growth. Your drafts will never be New York Times Bestselling work, but your drafts will always have the potential to be. Your feedback partners should recognize the potential and push you towards your goals.

Community is not competition. Make sure to find a group that understands this most of all. When you strip away the competition, you'll realize that there's space for everyone and their work. Groups that believe in community will often offer classes on querying or world-building. They'll offer workshops that will advance your writing and share great opportunities that come around. This is usually the place where you'll connect to find those beta readers and a critique partner. They'll support and encourage you when you're afraid and uplift you when you need it. Most of all, they'll champion your work when it's ready for the world.

How do you find a writing group? I found my writing group through Instagram (Paperback and co) and there are countless other groups on the app. I would start by searching the hashtags (#writingcommunity, #findmywritingcommunity, #writinggroups, etc.) and reaching out to those in the group to ask how they like it. Most importantly, make sure to do your research. Every group is different and works for different personalities and for different purposes. Find the one that fits you and show up for it. Don’t fall victim to solitude—create with others and bring a new perspective to your writing. I promise that if you do, things will flow and opportunities will arise, and you’ll be a better writer for it.

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