Camaraderie. Feedback. The opportunity to vent. These are just a handful of the numerous benefits of joining a writers’ group. Writing is mostly a solitary endeavor, and it’s easy to feel isolated as you toil away day after day behind a computer screen. Whether you write novels, short stories, screenplays, or something else, it’s refreshing to discuss your work with people who understand the ups and downs of the writing life.
However, not everyone has the time or ability to meet up with their fellow scribblers in person. The good news is there are plenty of ways you can connect with like-minded authors online. Here are five ways to find a writers’ group on the web.
1) Connect Through Social Media
Chances are you already use Facebook, Twitter, or another form of social media. With 2.07 billion users in 2017, Facebook is a huge network of people from all walks of life — including writers.
No matter what type of writers’ group you’re looking for, you’re likely to find a good fit on social media. Goodreads alone has 875 different writing groups. On Facebook, you can find writing groups that collate calls for submissions, groups aimed at helping indie authors, and groups dedicated to specific genres like travel writing, children’s books, and women’s fiction.
2) Join a Writers’ Association
Many writing genres have professional associations founded to support authors who write in that genre. For example, the Romance Writers of America, the Mystery Writers of America, and the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America are three national associations that offer workshops, contests, advocacy, and networking opportunities for their members.
Even better, these large national associations have regional and local chapters — many of which offer opportunities to meet both in person and online.
3) Share Your Work with a Critique Site
Part of the draw of joining a writers’ group is the chance to get another person’s opinion on your work. As any writer knows, it’s hard to be objective about your own writing, especially if you’ve spent months working on a manuscript. And while it might be nerve-wracking to share your work with others, it’s a necessary step if you plan on submitting your manuscript to agents or publishers.
There are several places on the web where you can get meaningful feedback on your writing, meet friends, and even join a writers’ group.
Wattpad is a free online community that allows anyone to post stories in a wide range of genres. Most users choose to post their work in serialized form, sharing short sections at a time. Once a writer uploads a section of their story, other users can read and leave comments. If a story receives a lot of positive feedback and interaction, it’s often featured on the site’s “What’s Hot List.” This can be a lucrative exercise for an unpublished author, as several Wattpad writers have received contracts from major publishing houses.
If you write science fiction, fantasy, or horror, you can also join the Online Writing Workshop (OWW) to receive online critiques. Membership to OWW costs $49 per year, however, the site offers a free one-month trial. OWW has also helped launch the careers of several popular authors.
4) Search Writing Message Boards
Message boards are another great place to connect with other writers, get advice, and research agents and publishing houses. Whether you’re a rookie or veteran writer, message boards can be a goldmine of information — as well as a spot to chat with people who share your writing interests.
As you might glean from its name, KBoards is a site “devoted to all things Kindle.” However, the site also features well-developed chat forums for indie authors. If you have questions about self-publishing, there’s a good chance a KBoards user has already answered it.
Absolute Write is also a community for writers that offers blog posts, critique opportunities, and chats with agents and editors. The Absolute Write Water Cooler is an active forum that gives writers chances to connect with others writing in a variety of genres. Users can also sign up to connect with beta readers, mentors, and writing buddies.
Message boards are also great places to research agents and publishers, find out how to draft a query letter, and what to expect after you’ve landed a publishing deal.
5) Create Your Own Writers’ Group
If you’ve searched the web but still can’t find an online writers’ group that fits your needs, why not start one? Do you know a few people in real life who love to write? Does a coworker always talk about writing a novel? Create an online group of your own where you can talk about writing, critique each other’s work, and serve as accountability buddies. You can start your own Facebook group, make a private forum, or use tools like Skype or Slack to hold regular meetings.
Writing may be a solitary pursuit, but that doesn’t mean you have to go it all alone. Joining an online writers’ group is a great way to get the feedback and support you need to keep pursuing — and accomplishing — your writing goals.
Amy Pennza is a romance author whose first book published in July 2017. She’s also a copywriter for a digital PR agency. You can find her on Twitter @AmyPennza.