Have you ever thought about joining any online writing groups? While it’s great to be able to meet a writing circle face-to-face to share your writing journey in some cases it’s just not possible. Carving out a specific time, finding a group in your area, or even struggling to connect with members can all be major obstacles in finding a good fit.
This is why many writers are turning to online writing groups. On good days, bursting with passion and excitement, it’s only natural to want to share your latest writing triumph. On tough days you want inspiration, advice, or just a friendly listener. Online writing groups are often a fun and easy way to connect with thousands of other writers when and where you want to. Facebook is a convenient place to find passionate writing communities based on location, genre, skills, format, and much more. Intrigued by these non-stop streams of advice and support we joined several groups and talked with a few members about their experiences.
For some of our interviewed writers they stumbled across these groups through Facebook recommendations. However, the majority actively sought out these writing communities. As they explore, writers often join multiple groups to reach particular discussions and sub-communities. There are a number of categories specific to newbie writers, submission calls, self-publishing, marketing and networking. It’s not uncommon to see familiar faces amongst different groups’ feeds as you become part of the virtual writing community.
We’ve done a bit of investigating ourselves and can recommend the following groups;
All of our interviewed writers spend the majority of their writing group time offering advice and encouragement to other members. Some interact with these communities daily, others a few times a week. Of course, they also receive their share of support.
Angelene Kaur, a member of three of these groups, has recently used these circles to connect with an illustrator. She also learned of the ‘what if’ method of overcoming writer’s block and said that she’s found the feedback on her writing to be very helpful.
In Morgan Storm Ray’s experience, a member of six groups, she shared that, ‘the best advice I’ve received was to always keep learning.’ Which we also agree is very important for a writer, especially in terms of soaking up new experiences and perspectives.
Other members have also used these resources for book reviews, shared specialist knowledge, networking, and more. Of particular interest are the articles posted to these feeds. While exploring these groups we recently came across a thought provoking article on writing from the perspectives of different ethnicities. Not only was the article interesting, it was fascinating to see the responses of writers sharing their thoughts and writing experiences on this topic.
Many writers also share personal stories related to their writing careers. One writer admitted to giving themselves back problems after deliberately walking around with a limp to research the experience for a character they were creating – which we do not recommend! Although we do admire the dedication to character development. This sparked a number of intriguing and surprising anecdotes detailing the lengths writers will go to for their work.
These online writing groups are great free resources for writers. Although for any writer interested in taught classes we’ve put together a directory of UK writing courses for a range of budgets, experience, and time commitments which you can find here.
All of our interviewed writers said that they do or would recommend these Facebook groups to other writers. For some, this is their only writing community. Many writers are unable to find a local ‘real-life’ writing group. EJ Runyon, a member of several groups, has been able to participate in both types of writing communities. In her opinion online writing groups see the sharing of much more incomplete work and unspecific questions. As a writing coach she finds many of these groups inspirational for her next writer’s guide.
However, as useful as the advice and inspiration are, these groups are also popular because of their sense of community. Some groups even have general topic feeds so that people can talk about non-writing related content with their online writing friends.
As part of building a writing community several groups engage in writing ‘games’ such as posting writing prompts, write a four-word horror story, continue the story a sentence per person, and more. For some writers these can be time wasters but others enjoy the quick challenge and engaging with the group. As Angelene Kaur points out it is better to procrastinate on these groups where at least things are centred around a theme of writing and there are opportunities for inspiration.
As with any community there are, of course, issues. Pet peeves depend on the individual but general complaints revolve around people posting unrelated content, topical discussions working their way into the groups and getting out of hand, ‘grammar Nazis’, and Facebook’s post visibility. These groups often have strict rules about self-promotion, sensitive material and off topic threads. From our experience of these groups admins are quick to respond to issues. Often there are a team of admins working hard to maintain productive discussions and comments.
The best part of these groups is that they are composed of writers trying to learn from, support and help each other. Members are exposed to new writing techniques, different perspectives, advice on character development, plot planning, and whatever else they discover or think to ask. Some of our interviewees also make an effort to buy and read books written by fellow members. They often really enjoy them and the general books read and recommended by members.
Facebook groups are a great way to connect with a variety of people from different backgrounds, cultures, locations, and experiences. We’ve seen some great questions and answers in these groups regarding character development, writing techniques, technical questions, publishing advice, and much more. Most impressively many of these groups have built a strong sense of community. The admins manage and oversee threads to maintain a friendly environment despite often large membership numbers. It’s always inspiring to see writers supporting and encouraging each other. These groups are a great place to connect with other writers and become part of an online community.