Why Writing Communities Can Skyrocket Your Growth

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The simple trick to succeeding in a crowded world

For the longest time, I was alone on Medium. I was an aspiring writer who looked at famous writers in awe. I wondered if I could be at that level. To be honest, it was not a good experience to see your posts get a couple hundred views and then see someone getting thousands of views for breakfast.

A writer, more than anything, also needs emotional support — especially during the first few months. I didn’t have any but fortunately, I didn’t quit. All this time, I’d been reading articles about improving as a writer. And from the hundreds of articles I read on the topic, one tip stood out the most (apart from ‘write every day’ of course) — “Join a community.”

Yet, ignorantly, I kept turning my back on this. I procrastinated on such a simple thing for months not knowing where it could take me. I was too lazy to search for writing communities. Plus, I hate Facebook so the cheesy Facebook groups were out of the question.

After roughly 8 months of writing on Medium, I was invited to a community. “Thank God, I didn’t have to scrounge for them throughout the Internet,” I thought. And then I got invited to another.

Yet, I had my apprehensions. My experience with communities hadn’t been all roses. To me, it sounded more like another Slack/Discord/WhatsApp/Reddit group to promote your articles.

I couldn’t have been more wrong. People in writing communities share their wins, inspire others, help others by reviewing what they write, suggest headlines, share tips, collectively complain about all things writing, and have lots of fun!

As a result of being in communities, I’ve had multiple conversations with writers that make me feel more secure and confident. And as a side-effect, they’ve been a tremendous source of knowledge and opportunities. This is an attempt to list all the amazing things I’ve found after joining such communities hoping you don’t wait too long before joining one! Onward,

Communities make you more relaxed

“Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. I do that every day. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength. It shows you have the courage to admit when you don’t know something, and to learn something new.” — Barack Obama

No matter how skilled you are, you can’t do everything yourself. You may start out that way, but sooner or later, you’re going to need help. Asking for help is a sign of maturity, not weakness. And let’s be honest, getting help feels good. You can achieve much more with much less if you just ask the right person you help you.

Being a part of a community gives you an opportunity to ask for help at any time. There were many things I struggled with as a writer. For instance, submitting to some publications used to be a cringeworthy experience. With a plethora of guidelines and rules, it can seem overwhelming. Especially when editors aren’t able to help you out.

This is when your friends can help you. I’ve got quality feedback from fellow writers that has helped me to make my way into publications as well as improve my writing.

I’m also able to correct most mistakes before submitting. Running your piece through a writer can be better than running it through a friend who would sugar-coat his feedback to make you feel good. Communities place those writers at your fingertips so you don’t feel alone.

It makes you inspired

Someone hits a thousand followers. Someone’s article just went viral. Someone’s work got recommended by a famous writer. Someone was featured in a blog post.

I often wake up to these messages in the communities and they’re exhilarating. And then comes a stream of congratulatory messages. It’s nothing less than a virtual party on chat!

Seeing good things happen with others makes you believe that it’s possible for you as well. The famous writers are just like you who pulled up their sleeves, got to work, and then reaped the results. In a world filled with negativity, these communities are my refuge. It’s good to be in a place where people lift each other up for a change.

It makes feedback accessible

Getting your articles rejected is not nice. Neither is it nice when you get a message like “Sorry, but we’re going to pass on this one.” Most editors I work with are more considerate than that. But every once in a while you get these notes. And it sucks!

So where can you go in times of such trouble? The community of course! I’ve faced these challenges a lot of times. And every time it happens, my fellow friends advise me to fix something or help me find a good home for the story.

When I started out on Medium, I would just submit to a smaller publication without investigating why my article was rejected. These were growth opportunities I missed. But I miss them no more.

Feedback is fuel for writers. It puts you in a state of flow. The joy of tightening and polishing your writing is incomparable. The way to excel at anything is to have short feedback loops. Communities help you do that.

It helps in promotion

Yes, promotion in communities is cliche and frankly, sucks. But a tight-knit community doesn’t only give opportunities for promotion — it gives you friends that will read your work whether you promote it or not.

They will themselves promote your article and reach out with random appreciation. In the cacophony of deafening social media posts, true friends help your work shine.

Communities encourage “skill swaps”

A skill swap is nothing but sharing of skills by two people. A few days ago I got on a call with one of my writer-friends to get more feedback on my writing and on the other hand, help him with meditation.

Since we both got value from the call, it didn’t seem like ‘helping’ the other person. This barter of skills is one of the best ways to network in my experience. It makes both sides equally excited eliminates ego battles.

It’s fun!

Writers are a sentimental bunch. We can get emotional about our content. But there’s often no one to vent out those emotions on. This is where your community comes into the picture. You can complain and bitch about anything (within limits of course) with others. Since others also face the same challenges, they’ll jump on and crack jokes to ease your pain.

It enforces accountability

Seeing other writers churn out content while you’re sitting idle doesn’t really feel comfortable. When others post their wins in the community, one part of you feels happy for them. Another part of you inspires you to take action and achieve the same results.

It leads to increased acceptance

With all the additional feedback, the acceptance rates into publications go up. You now understand what pubs look for because you’ve learned it from the people who write for them!

As an editor, I’d also appreciate a writer who gets feedback from other people before carelessly submitting it. It shows commitment. Everything is a domino effect from there. As you improve your writing and work with bigger publications, you get curated more. This leads to perhaps the only thing that we crave for as writers — more readership.

It keeps you informed

When Medium was testing its new profile page last year, it had an invite form to get writers who were interested in trying it out. I didn’t know about it for 4 months!

I submitted to publications only to find out that the editor has changed or their guidelines have changed. It seemed I was the last one to find about algorithm changes and anything else that’s happening on the platform.

I’ve been the least informed person on many occasions. Being a part of a community changed that forever. I get updates as well as free commentary and insights on how I can use it for my benefit.

Staying in your own little fortress doesn’t really help anyone. Come out of it, roam around a little, keep the door of your office open — in a virtual sense. It helps you keep a hand on the pulse of the platform so you can take action at the right time.

Final thought

Being around like-minded people is the only shortcut to achieve your goals. You just saw what a simple change did for me. I hope it does the same for you. The only question is, will you take action?

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Written on March 9, 2021