Writing is often considered a lonely profession, and while it’s true that it’s a solitary task, it does not have to be lonesome.
Even a socially-awkward, highly-anxiety-ridden person like myself, can make connections within the writing community.
A strong network
Humans are social creatures, even those of us who do not thrive in social situations, still need some connections.
Writers often lock themselves away, lost in worlds we create. It is not exactly healthy to do this constantly and can breed isolation and loneliness.
Strong social connections are proved to be a requirement for good health. There are studies that show people with support systems in their life, recover faster from serious illnesses or accidents.
I’ve discussed the health of writers before in my article How to keep a Healthy Body and Brain. But we need more than just physical and mental health. We need good emotional health too.
Support and Encouragement
The Writing Community, as a whole, is full of mostly supportive, friendly people. Yes, there will be some less-than-friendly ones, but that’s just life. Don’t let a few bad ‘uns keep you from reaching out to this network of awesome people.
As writers, we are usually pretty busy. Most of us have work (or education) that eats up a lot of our time, add in errands and chores, and already there is limited time for creative endeavours.
So what do we do? We sacrifice time with friends for our writing, we stay up late or get up early, in those “anti-social” hours to write.
We are also often nervous to share our work. Yet we lose out on the support and encouragement we get from others.
I used to have a friend in Australia, we connected when we were teenagers. We would send each other scenes and ideas and even try and catch time together on Messenger. Her enthusiasm for my writing really spurred me on, as did mine for hers.
We would write massive emails back and forth, discussing points and getting excited about where the scene was going.
If I hadn’t received that early encouragement from someone, I don’t know if I’d have ever got to this point. My family and IRL friends were rarely interested or supportive so all the drive and motivation fell on me and sometimes when I was struggling, it was hard to keep going.
Sadly, I lost touch with that friend after several years. But her encouragement has always been a push for me to believe in myself and my writing and for that, I will forever be in her debt.
Community not Competition
I know I’ve used the term “Community not Competition” quite a bit, but I really feel it needs hammering home. Too often I see new writers terrified of connecting with others for fear they will “steal their ideas” or viewing others as competitors to be overcome.
This is unhealthy. There is plenty of space for us all. We need to continually reach out, support and encourage each other. Whether published or not.
Ask about people’s work. Get excited. Show interest, show enthusiasm and give support – but above all, be genuine.
Don’t be supportive only in hopes of gaining back. Do it because you believe in your fellow writers. Do it because those words of support and encouragement could be just what that writer needs to get through a rough patch.
Share your passions and excitement over each other’s work. Support them when they try new things and encourage them to keep going through moments of doubt.
As well as support and encouragement, the Writing Community can help with Accountability. It has been harder for me to shirk off my writing when a bad mood takes over, with people asking me about my work.
I become accountable to these people. They help me stick to my schedule. So whether you end up with real Accountability buddies or just people who randomly ask how the story is coming along, you can find yourself driven to continue.
Don’t let being introverted or shy stop you
I’m pretty introverted, add on a nice crazy dollop of anxiety and it really is a shocker I connect with anyone at all.
But then again, I refuse to be defined by my limitations. So, I (with a lot of stress and panic) push against my comfort zones. This includes reaching out to random writers (terrifying, I know). Being online does make it somewhat easier.
Yet from these initial messages, I have made some incredible friends who have truly been a blessing. They leave kind words, they support my blog, they encourage me to write and are even eager to read my work.
Don’t let fear stop you from reaching out. Most writers have a Contact page, we don’t add those unless we are happy for people to reach out to us. So start connecting.
How do you feel about connecting with other writers?
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I want to say a big thank you to a few writers who have really helped me over the years with their kind words and support: Wilmar Luna, Lorraine Ambers, Rachel Poli, Pearl R Meaker, Cat, Tira, Michael K & Andrew McDowell.
Also, a big thank you to everyone who reads this blog, who shares their thoughts, who reaches out to others to connect and help them. Your support means the world to me.