Finding a Writing Community
By Karen Mann
We know writing is a solitary occupation. Writers are often introverts and like being alone. But most of us don’t want to keep our writing to ourselves. We write in hopes someone will read our writing. It’s important to find a writing community with which to share your work. If publication is your goal, you’ll want to get opinions and tips from other writers before sending out a submission or approaching an agent or editor. Here are some tips for finding a writing community that benefits you.
Find a writing group. Writing groups are usually 4-6 people who meet regularly and exchange writing. Members critique other members’ work, and members revise based on suggestions. Check your community news for local groups, or search online to find one in your area. Writing groups are usually free to join unlike the next suggestions.
Go to a writers’ conference. A writers’ conference offers various features, such as talks by authors, agents, or editors; mini-classes; workshops; manuscript critiques; plus connection with other writers. Writers’ conferences often have themes, such as mystery, romance, fiction, screenwriting, etc. Newpages.com has a list of writers’ conferences and events under Writers Resources.
Take a writing class. You may find courses through adult education, community colleges, or universities. If you take a class to improve your writing and find a community, enroll in a local class rather than taking an online class.
Join a writing association. Many states or large cities have writing associations that offer many opportunities for writers. Search for lists of writing associations, and you’ll find one near you. Associations often have conferences, classes, groups, and readings.
Attend an MFA in Writing program. MFA in Writing programs not only give you the chance to work with an author instructor, but also a chance to cultivate a community with others who have a passion for writing just like you. Low-residency MFA in Writing programs allow adults to improve their writing by earning a degree without moving to a college town. Each semester begins with a residency, usually 7-10 days, after which students return home to study through an exchange of writing, or perhaps online workshops, with an experienced mentor. Through an alumni association, MFA program connections last longer than you’ll be a student; they can last a lifetime. You’ll make friends who not only share your love of writing but also care about you.
Finding a community is essential to nurturing your love of writing. Take a break from the writing and find some writer friends—for critiquing, for a literary discussion, for sharing, or maybe just for lunch!
Karen Mann is the author of The Woman of La Mancha and The Saved Man. She is the co-founder and Administrative Director of the low-residency Master of Fine Arts in Writing Program at Spalding University (www.spalding.edu/mfa). She is also the managing editor of The Louisville Review, a national literary magazine since 1976 (www.louisvillereview.org). Having lived in Indiana most of her life, she now lives in San Jose, California. See more about her books at http://www.karenmannwrites.com.
About The Woman of La Mancha:
It’s 1583. An eleven-year-old girl wakes in the back of a cart. She has lost her memory and is taken in by a kindly farm family in La Mancha. She adopts the name Aldonza. She doesn’t speak for quite some time. Once she speaks, there is a family member who is jealous of her and causes a good deal of trouble, even causing her to be forced to leave La Mancha in tragic circumstances. Having to create a new life in a new location and still unaware of her birth family, she adopts the name Dulcinea and moves in the circles of nobility. While seeking her identity, she becomes the consort of wealthy men, finds reason to disguise herself as a man, and learns herbal healing to help others.
There is a parallel story of a young man, Don Christopher, a knight of King Philip and the betrothed of the girl, who sets off on with a young squire, Sancho, to find the girl. Christopher’s adventures take them across Spain and force him to grow up. Does he continue the quest to find his betrothed or marry another and break the contract with the king?
Both young people have many experiences and grow up before the readers’ eyes. Floating in and out of each other’s paths as they travel around Spain, will they eventually find each other and be together?