English novelist E.M. Forster said, “Only, connect.” Writers need other writers, not just their books, essays, and poems, but flesh and blood people. Well, the less blood spilled, the better. So here’s your assignment if you don’t already belong to a vibrant, extensive writing community.
- Scan bulletin boards at church, a coffee shop, your local community college;
- Go to a reading at a bookstore or cafe, listen to the guest reader and strike up a conversation with a person sitting near to you. After you talk a bit about the guest reader, it’s okay to ask, “Do you write?”
- Scope out the Meet Ups in your area; i bet you’ll find a writing group or two or twelve;
- Post a request on your social media pages, but arrange to meet at a public venue before you ask strangers to sit at your kitchen table;
- Check the classified listings in writers’ magazines to see if there is an existing group you can get to;
- Take a writing class, either as part of your curriculum or as an audit;
- Build your own group by taking stock of the people you already know; chances are good that you already know other writers and they know other writers who know other writers, etc.
None of this is about spending a ton of money or about selling your book if you already have one. It’s about shop talk, mutual support, getting off your duff and meeting people who share your fascination with words lined up like good soldiers. If you live in a watchtower on top of an inaccessible mountain, you might resort to online connections, but then too there is the possibility of writing letters back and forth to a distant writer whom you know. (Remember letters, those folded sheets of paper tucked into an envelope, stamped and handed to the USPS for delivery?) “Only connect.”