The importance of forging a supportive writing community...
Writing is a team sport...
Sorry, have I just shattered your illusions of the tortured Hemingway locked away to toil over his magnum opus by flickering candlelight?
It’s an unfortunate fact that quite a lot of being a writer means tapping away at a keyboard all by your merry lonesome, but we don’t need to entirely forego socialisation in order to be productive.
There is a middle ground between the brilliant recluse and the social butterfly who never gets past the first page of their draft and that is the Writers’ Room. This doesn’t need to just be limited to TV productions, you can create your very own with your peers!
Call it a Feedback Group, Critique Partnership, Writing Circle, or even a Book Club, what it really means is a sounding board made up of people you trust where you can discuss ideas, work out kinks in your plots or get support from friends.
You might be thinking “Pfft, I don’t need that. I already know everything there is to know about my story”. Yeah… and that’s kind of the problem.
Have you ever tried to explain a subject you know like the back of your hand to someone who knows nothing about it? How many stupid questions do they ask you? They can’t connect the dots, even when you’ve laid things out so clearly.
That’s kind of like your story. The audience has no idea what your story is about, but the problem is you already know your story, so you can’t always see what parts might not be obvious to an outsider. Especially for newer writers, it’s almost impossible to catch these things yourself.
Unfortunately, most of us, particularly early in our careers, will only have access to immediate family, friends or paid feedback services – none of whom really give that much of a crap about your work (sorry but that’s the truth).
It can be hard to find anyone willing to read your work and very often that feedback is half-arsed, nonsensical and doesn’t give you much insight into how you can improve. However, you will find there are a lot of writers in the same position as you, who would probably jump at the chance to join a supportive Writers’ Room.
Finding the right group takes time
This process won’t always be easy. My own writing group, which I found through a public screenwriting group on Facebook, had a few false starts. Despite the original message having a lot of responses, only 4 people turned up to the first meeting, and by a few weeks later it was down to just me and the original poster.
Unfortunately, a lot of people like the idea of being a writer, but aren’t actually very serious about it, and many will feel no qualms about wasting your time. You’ll have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your tribe.
You may also have people use you for feedback and give you some of the most pointless, boilerplate feedback in return that makes you wonder if they even read your work, but this is just a fact of life and should not be something to deter you.
It was a painful process, but I’m glad I stuck it out, as it was definitely worth it. So don’t give up. You will eventually find your writing support network.
Being part of a writing group has, by far, been the best thing for my writing in terms of motivation, output and my understanding of the craft.
It is so helpful not only having invested people reading your work, but having people to bounce ideas off before you even write your first draft. People who have different strengths and weaknesses, who we can both teach and learn from.
Writing can be mentally and emotionally taxing, and that’s before you try to put your work out into the world and are met with that 98% rejection rate (yeah, it’s bleak).
Having a crew of writers going through the same thing, and who can bolster you up, is an absolute gift. We motivate each other, console each other, share opportunities and news, and try to help each other succeed.
I encourage you to find your supporting Writers’ Room, and don’t give up until you find people as invested in this as you are - who commiserate your losses and celebrate your victories.
Writing can be incredibly lonely, but having the right support system waiting in the wings, makes it a whole lot easier.
Thank you for reading. Make sure to leave a comment and share this with other writers.
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