Why Every Writer Needs Community



There was a time in my life when I wasn’t writing at all. I wanted to write, but I was convinced I had no talent so I shied away from the whole thing. I stopped writing for good in college, and then after I moved out to the West Coast I didn’t pick up the pen again for another six years.

It was a bad six years.

During that time I didn’t know any other writers. I assumed that I was a freak. I heard voices in my head, I saw visions that unfolded into epic stories, and I had vivid dreams that were too complex to write down. When I told anyone about this stuff, they looked at me like I was completely crazy.

Then, I joined a writer’s group.

Slowly I met other people like me. Other writers. People who got it when I explained about the voices, the visions, and the dreams. People who experienced emotions like I did—in wild streaks and splashes of color. People who were just as intense, sensitive, and obsessive as I was.

It was a huge relief. Not only to know that I really wasn’t crazy, but also to share what was maybe the biggest hidden part of my life with other people who were having the same experiences.

Last year I started blogging and met even more writers online. And now, every day, I am extremely fortunate to talk to other writers about everything that matters to me. I get emails from writers about new characters who just popped into their reality, or other characters who have suddenly gone rogue. I’m in ongoing Twitter conversations about the latest book I’m reading (and have, of course, become obsessed with) and what book I should read next. My Facebook stream is filled with bright images of creativity in all forms.

Writers have a reputation for being solitary creatures. And while it is true that we need time to ourselves to write regularly, and space to play around in our imaginations, we also need friends.

Writers need friends in their lives who are also writers.

Writer friends are the people who get what’s going on in your wacky head. They support you through the angst of that first rough draft, the euphoria of finishing, and the tedium of all the drafts that have to come after. They understand the magical connection you have with your characters, and that when something happens to them, it’s also happening to a part of you.

If you already have a cadre of amazing writer friends, then count yourself lucky and tell them how much you appreciate them as soon as you finish reading this post. But if you don’t have any writer friends, or you want more, make today the day that you reach out. Start following a writer’s blog, or start a conversation with another writer on Twitter. Recommend a book you love to another writer on Goodreads. Join that writing group in your community that you’ve been thinking about for so long.

Make today the day that you bring another writer friend into your life.

Because it’s time. And we really do need each other.

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  • Reply Jennifer Lovett Herbranson 27 January, 2014 at 10:11 am

    Amen Sister!

  • Reply Mari Biella 27 January, 2014 at 11:30 am

    Well, what more can I say? You’ve said it all. 🙂

  • Reply Phillip McCollum 27 January, 2014 at 12:42 pm

    Starting my blog has probably been the #1 thing to help me connect with other writers. Networking would have been doable pre-Internet, but it’s so convenient now and the reach is greater. You’re right, writers need writer friends. It helps to have people by your side that know what you’re going through.

    • Reply Lauren Sapala 27 January, 2014 at 3:28 pm

      I’m with you Phillip, starting my blog changed everything for me. I had a few writer friends before, but now I have a TON. And it is AWESOME.

  • Reply Kim Smith 27 January, 2014 at 4:09 pm

    I’m struggling with this — I follow a few writers’ blogs but can’t really say that I have “writer friends.” I’d love to find a good writing group to begin sharing my work and helping others do the same, but I’m pretty terrified to take that step. Our local library advertises a writer’s group and I actually got up my nerve to go over there one day. But still, I lingered in the hallway to see how many people went in the room. Through the room’s glass wall I could see that only two people showed up, and they appeared to just sit separately and write in their notebooks. And the group leader never showed up at all, so I left without going inside. I felt like such a quitter, but it really didn’t look like the type of group I wanted to find.

    I’m so intimidated by the whole idea, but I know I need to start getting feedback and making connections. How do I get over my fear? And do you think it matters whether I have local writers to hang with, or is it just as good to have internet writer friends? Thanks, Lauren!

    • Reply Lauren Sapala 28 January, 2014 at 9:14 am

      Hi Kim! I think you just have to take it step by step. The right people will show up in your life when it’s time. And if you don’t know any other writers in real life, just keep reaching out online to other writers and keep building those friendships. It’s like anything else, some people will stick with you and some just won’t be your cup of tea. The writing group you went to probably wasn’t a fit for you. And also, I totally understand that feeling of standing out in the hallway and checking out the situation nervously, I do it ALL the time! Sometimes it takes me months to get up the courage to talk to someone in real life.

      I just went to your blog and am now following your posts, so we can be writer friends 🙂 And now we’ll keep building on that!

      • Reply Kim Smith 28 January, 2014 at 12:32 pm

        That’s fantastic, thank you for your support!

        • Reply Robyn LaRue 29 January, 2014 at 1:35 pm

          So with you on standing in the hall. Don’t give up. tart on line if that’s easier. Support from other writers is golden! I sent you a msg on your contact form.

  • Reply Debra Wong 27 January, 2014 at 7:30 pm

    Hi Lauren,

    I stumbled upon this post in my Twitter feed and I got to say that it’s good advice, even if one’s not primarily a fiction writer! I’m a (very) new writer that has also just started a blog, and was wondering how to network with other fellow writers. Well, I’m making the first step by following your blog as well as some writer accounts on Twitter 🙂

    • Reply Lauren Sapala 28 January, 2014 at 9:09 am

      That’s great Debra! I just tweeted you so hopefully we can be writer friends 🙂

  • Reply hilarycustancegreen 28 January, 2014 at 2:55 pm

    I absolutely agree. I have only a few writer friends but they keep me sure of my purpose. As for the blog, it has been a wonderful learning curve on several fronts.

  • Reply Jon 30 January, 2014 at 4:46 am

    Splendid post Lauren. I have a couple of real-life writer friends, but we all live fairly distant from each other. Hence, I find the virtual community an extraordinarily valuable resource. I could never have believed the support and encouragement I’d find within this community.

    Oh, and I love the idea of a character “going rogue” 😀

    • Reply Lauren Sapala 30 January, 2014 at 8:19 am

      I completely agree! I was hesitant to get into online writing communities for a long time because I assumed they were all highly competitive and exclusive. But I’ve really found it to be the complete opposite.

  • Reply Marie Ann Bailey 30 January, 2014 at 5:30 am

    When I was just a young thing, I belonged to a writing group at my local community college. They were the best support, and we had the mentorship of a faculty member who believed in each one of us. Unfortunately, my youth (i.e., immaturity) prevented me from fully appreciating that group until much later in life. I haven’t found quite the same mix of support and mentoring since then, in face-to-face groups. And, also unfortunately, where I live now, people tend to be quite parochial. There is a local writer’s “association” and I’ve thought of attending their meetings, but . . . for many reasons, I haven’t and probably won’t ever.
    But through my blog I’ve gained quite a few writer friends and found the support and sometimes even mentoring that I’ve missed over the years. Your blog, Lauren, is one that I truly enjoy and learn a lot from.

    • Reply Lauren Sapala 30 January, 2014 at 8:18 am

      Thank you Marie! I definitely count you as an intelligent, thoughtful, and incredibly helpful writer friend 🙂

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