Being a good Member and Getting the most out of them
Since writing can be a lonely job, it’s a small wonder there are hundreds of writing communities online where writers come together to bond, chat, critique, and lift one another when needed.
However, keep in mind, not all writing communities are created equal. And writers are not all the same type of people just because they have writing in common.
Over the past twenty years, I’ve participated in several writing groups. It is a wonderful feeling to come into a group that spends their free time the way you do – namely writing and reading. So, you may find discussions about books, or have the opportunity to get peer reviews of your work, as well as giving others the benefit of your knowledge.
Sounds good, right?
Back in the late nineties, I came across a site called the ‘Instant Novelist.’ We were given prompts and asked to write and submit stories. Most of the entries had a word limit of 1000 or less. So, it was all strictly Flash Fiction.
I happily created short-short stories. I found myself anxiously waiting for the kids to leave for school so I could get to the computer and see the reviews other writers left for me.
The anticipation of reading critiques and the urge to create new work was terrific, but over time, the whole thing became an addiction. I wasn’t getting any housework done, dinner was often late, and I didn’t exercise at all.
The opinions of these other writers had me believing several things. First of all, I had some raw talent, and conversely, I didn’t understand the English language. (Yes, it is my first language, thank you very much.)
And on the other side of it, I spent a great deal of time reading the work of others. I knew the more I left reviews for others, the more people would return the favor.
I was a critique junkie.
Fast-forward to 2017. I joined an online community of writers, where the premise was the same as ‘Instant Novelist.’ I now had an opportunity to learn about poetry, and the assignments included some challenges in technique and style.
Once again, I became an addict to the site. However, there was an extra twist this time. To put your work in front of the most people, you needed to ‘promote’ the piece. You could either read the work of others for points or buy points.
I spent hour upon hour reading the work of others. I read books on reading so that my opinions came from actual knowledge, rather than gut feelings. I no longer had any children at home, but my husband started cooking dinner when he got home.
In 2018, I started working on my first novel, and I didn’t have the same amount of time to read the work of others, so I began buying points.
It was a nightmare. I won’t tell you how much money I spent–you will lose all respect for me.
I have several awards for writing on that site. I won an award for being the most read author of short stories in 2018, along with a second-place trophy for authoring novels. If I were to tell you the actual amount I spent on the site to promote all of my work, well, you would come to the same conclusion I did – I bought those trophies.
Do I still display them? OF COURSE!
I left the site to pursue my writing in my way. I built a daily schedule around my other activities, and I think I found a much healthier balance.
Why am I telling you all of this?
First, I think we all need to understand that we NEED to interact with others during the day. If you are spending too much time working alone in a bubble, you will lose sight of current events, and the reality of living in the world.
Secondly, I want to caution you from spending TOO MUCH TIME mingling with other writers online.
Facebook and its multitude of groups can be a great place to spend your time. However, if you keep your browser open, and stop writing each time a message flashes across your screen, you won’t get much writing done.
During this time of forced isolation, many people are too distracted to write. I understand that, but I think since more people are online, you can be distracted by people, their opinions, and the general negativity of the situation.
So, a word of caution. Healthily use online groups and Facebook. Take notice of how much time you spend interacting with others and how much time you spend writing – you decide.
Where is your time best spent?
Think about it.