“I have spent a good many years since―too many, I think―being ashamed about what I write. I think I was forty before I realized that almost every writer of fiction or poetry who has ever published a line has been accused by someone of wasting his or her God-given talent. If you write (or paint or dance or sculpt or sing, I suppose), someone will try to make you feel lousy about it, that’s all."
- Stephen King
In Stephen King’s memoir 'On Writing', he reminds writers of the fire we face daily as we endeavor to write and create. Not only do we have to contend with our own self-doubt, but we also have to face those who continue to impugn our ambitions as a writer. It's inevitable that we will find ourselves feeling that we simply cannot go on writing and some will abandon writing altogether.
As a new writer, I have also experienced the pains associated with the story that has sat in my mind and cultivated my heart. After having read Stick With It, a book that explores the science behind lasting behavior, I discovered that there was a key point made in this book that could help on this writing journey: the importance of belonging to a community where, “...social support and competition fuel change and keep us accountable.”
A community is most commonly defined as a group of people with shared characteristics. These characteristics can range from having the same beliefs or shared financial status, but for our purposes, the shared interest would be in writing a book and a love for books. Online writing communities have much value and can help the struggling writer find the needed confidence to move forward. Below is a small list of why every writer should consider joining, and actively participating, in a writing community.
In a writing community you will find others who face the same struggles
Prior to writing one of the most beloved American children's novel The Wizard of Oz, author L. Frank Baum wondered whether he was even capable of writing a great novel as mentioned in his personal writings. Having already published a few novels and poems, L. Frank Buam was not pleased with his work and struggled to believe that he was actually a good writer. In fact, L. Frank Baum felt “like a literary imposter”, comparing himself to others who had achieved academic success. Despite evidence to the contrary, Baum questioned the adequacy of his writing skills.
It's hard to imagine that someone who went on to write The Wizard of Oz ever had these feelings. He, like most authors, spent a great deal of time with his creative thoughts, the characters he so well knew, the words he would use to convey the imaginary world he was creating, and yet no amount of progress could have kept him from feeling like an imposter. In fact, imposter syndrome can and will hit many writers. What does this look like? The milestones we reach in our writing journey will be ignored after a while only for us to downplay them. Then if things couldn't get any worse, we begin to support this belief; we sit terrified with our projects knowing that others will see through us and think our work is not good enough to see the light of day.
Alone with these feelings you might not be able to push through to continue writing.
In writing communities, you will find others who feel like this.
In a community you will hear about others and find that you are not alone in these struggles. You might not at the moment have the courage to share these feelings, but there will no doubt be others who courageously post that they have felt the exact same way and have overcome these emotions. These posts will help you get to know other writers on the same journey and their projects. Then one day you will find that very post with a quote, anecdote, or even an aphorism that will speak to your soul. That one!! That's it!! You will decide that you actually aren't a bad writer after all. Much like L. Frank Baum, by staying connected and talking about these thoughts you too will be motivated to continue to work on your novel with confidence and who knows maybe find the same success as The Wizard of Oz.
In a writing community you will learn that you are not alone.
Writing can be a very lonely journey. In a community you can begin to build a network of friends among writers. It is these fellow writers who will welcome you in and remind you that they too are on the same journey. It's important to note that there are many wonderful online writing communities. It's your choice of the platform you will use, but make sure that wherever yo