Writing is itself a solitary process. But a writer simply cannot succeed on their own.
It’s not about a lack of talent or drive, but rather, a necessity to both collaborate and compete with other writers – if you want to advance your skills/career/following, that is.
I’ve had all kinds of experiences when it comes to both collaboration and competition. My creative writing critique group in college was one of the most helpful and most daunting experiences I’ve had working with other writers.
I’ve also joined – and left – a number of writing-related Facebook groups and other online forums.
Part of the reason is because I’m not a huge fan of self-promotion – at least, not in the sense that I need to join a Facebook group just to share my work with other people. I’m all about organic readership. (Small blogs for the win!)
There are both benefits and drawbacks to “being part of a writing community.” Unfortunately, I’ve personally found that, in trying to create my own online community of writers (hello!), the majority of people aren’t interested in participating if they don’t get to promote themselves.
I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with promotion. I guest post on a few blogs every now and then in hopes it will guide some new readers here (it doesn’t). But I enjoy sharing my writing solely for the purpose of sharing it – most of the time, I don’t expect to gain anything. I like to start and engage in conversations about writing. It’s important to me.
Which is why I’m growing more and more tired of writing groups – not because [most of] the people aren’t nice or that they don’t mean well, but because writing groups and the people in them have never helped me. They have only ever distracted or criticized me. (Several times I have shared blog posts, and most people felt the need to point out every flaw without any positive feedback – encouraging.)
I’ve found Facebook in general to be a very toxic place. It’s not really a place I have ever felt welcomed or appreciated as a writer. I use it to let those who want to follow me see what I’m up to – personally for friends and professionally for my followers. But Novelty’s FB page gets next to no engagement, and paying to promote posts has always proven to be a waste of money for me. No thank you.
Facebook groups distract me in the sense that I always feel worse about myself after spending too much time in them. That’s just me. I’m just not very good at relating to even people of “my own kind,” I guess. I’ve tried to be social. I give up. WordPress is nice. WordPress is friendly. Maybe you’ve had better luck than me out there in the social abyss.
Are you part of any Facebook groups? How have they benefited you as a writer? Am I just being a caffeine-deprived cranky person? (Side note: I was going to use the term “crankster” here, but have learned to always look these things up on Urban Dictionary before I make stuff up. Good choice.)
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.