Virtual Writing Communities and How to Get Involved
"Writing is something you do alone. It's a profession for introverts who want to tell you a story but don't want to make eye contact while doing it." - John Green
As a writer and mega-introvert, I agree with John Green's sentiment about the writer's life. I spend most of my writing time alone, and even when I am not able to write, I am still plotting a story or thinking about the writing and editing I want to accomplish.
I think about the characters of my books more often than I think about real people. In the middle of homework, I begin daydreaming a new obstacle I can write into my manuscript and scramble to write it down before I forget. I am always writing a story, and I always write it alone, except when I give my family a "short blurb", which means a fifteen-minute, overly-detailed explanation about the backstory and plot of my newest creation.
While many writers might agree that the act of writing is usually solo, I think that the virtual world has introduced a new way for writers to not be as alone in their writing endeavors.
It was this time last year that I first got serious about the virtual writing community on Instagram, my preferred author platform. I had created my Instagram account (@authornichelletaylor) in 2017, but I only posted simple book-related pictures with some sort of sentimental message attached. Though I knew I needed to be on social media for the sake of getting a book published, it felt more like an obligation, like I was reaching for content to post all the time. I rarely had anyone comment or like my posts, and this made me discouraged.
In January 2020, my perspective of that social media account changed when I found a caring Indie Author on Instagram, Sarah Sutton (@sarahmaesutton), who was quickly becoming more popular. I read about the recent publication of her debut novel, What Are Friends For?, and admired her Instagram skills. Not only did she post cute pictures, but she knew how to engage with other writers in ways I had not really experienced before. She asked questions and commented on many posts, showered other writers with kindness I had not discovered before.
When I decided to engage with her posts, I instantly knew I wanted to be friends with her; we are about the same age and both like to write (and read) Young Adult Fiction. She sent me a bookmark and a sweet note in the mail, and at that moment, I realized why she had become so successful.
She was creating a community everywhere she went. Other writers followed along because we were drawn to the community that remained in her wake.
After realizing what she did to create that community, I started engaging more with other writers on Instagram, and I posted more relevant information about me; instead of a generic quote about writing, I actually updated people on what my writing journey looked like. I shared who I am instead of hiding behind the phone.
In that moment, I realized that writers don't always want to be alone.
Sometimes, writers are hungry to talk about our stories, release our innermost ambitions and fears into the world with people who understand and empathize. Writers are usually introverts, but in the virtual writing community, we do not have to be. We can be close to others, make friends, even across time zones, and live in a world of fiction as much as we desire.
The virtual writing community made me rethink my identity as a writer; though I can make worlds that are mine and mine alone, it made me realize how sharing the writing experience can open us up to so much more. I learned about self-publishing and other writers' journeys, which has been an incredible and enlightening experience. I have especially enjoyed helping others promote their books.
If it weren't for the virtual writing community, I would not have made the several writing friends I deeply admire and appreciate.
If it weren't for the virtual writing community, I would not have participated in both Camps and the official NaNoWriMo. I probably would not have written as much as I did in 2020, either.
If it weren't for the virtual writing community, I would not have made the choice to prioritize and take risks on my writing and mental health.
The virtual writing community has become a huge blessing in my life and inspired me to write a short creative nonfiction piece for an anthology, and it was selected! This piece reflects how during the COVID-19 pandemic, a time of isolation, I found comfort in the writing community. They inspired me to keep going and attempt a 30,000 word writing goal during a crazy time of online university classes and finals.
The Corona Silver Linings Anthology was published December 01, 2020, and if you would like to get your own copy, you can find it here.
I highly recommend getting involved in the virtual writing community, but please be advised, this does not mean it is a quick fix for numbers of followers. While engagement increase your follower count, the main purpose of getting involved is to see the followers as people instead of just numbers.
To get involved, you should actively comment on other writers' posts, ask questions, and interact in other ways, such as through messaging or the Story/Reel section.
You should find people who are interested in getting to know you, for whom you can reciprocate. You may find a writers' group or a critique partner in the process! (If you are like me, you may even find other people with whom you can geek out about bullet journals.)
You should ask questions on your posts to encourage others to engage with you. Ask questions to which you are actually curious to know the answers, and make sure to respond with genuine kindness!
Sometimes I am disappointed that our world is so dependent on the internet, but if it weren't for the virtual writing community, I think I would be a different writer and person today. I am incredibly thankful I decided to get more involved.
What has your experience with the virtual writing community been like? I would love to chat with you about it and create a community here, too.