How I found my writing community (and how you can, too)

A community of like-minded writers reading from an iPad in a cafe.

By Allison Tait.

When I wrote about rejection recently, I talked about the importance of my writing community and recommended that every writer gather like-minded souls around them, for the bad times and the good.

“But how?” was the response I got.

Like a bowerbird, I found my writing people all over the place. In lines at writing conferences, through associations, in workshops and courses, via social media.

But rather than bore you all with further discussion about me, me, me (because it’s hard to find a community when you’re only focused on you…), I decided to ask nine writers how they found their writing communities.

Read on, take notes, and follow suit and you’ll find your writing community too!

9 authors tell how they found their writing community

Volunteer

“One of the best things about being a writer is getting to spend time with such incredibly creative and clever people. I’ve made wonderful friends over the years, by attending publishing conferences, book launches, festivals and literary events. These friends help celebrate successes and help me through the inevitable rough patches!

“I’ve volunteered on the CBCA Northern Sydney committee for 14 years, running events to promote children’s literacy including a huge Book Week celebration for 200 children called ‘Lunch with the Stars’ which I organised for ten years.”

Belinda Murrell, children’s/YA author, latest release The Golden Tower

Show up

“I’ve found several awesome writer friends over the years by simply showing up. Writing does tend to be quite a solitary pursuit and it’s easy to not show up – to not attend writers’ meetups, writing groups, end-of-year functions, NaNoWriMo events, conferences, festivals etc..

“But I’ve learnt it’s crucial to keep doing so.

“These people are where your tribe will come from and you’ll be needing a tribe to see you through the ups and downs of the writing life.

“I’ve met great writer friends in queues at conferences, in online groups, on a writers’ cruise, at NaNoWriMo write-ins. All when I least expected it.”

Allison Rushby, children’s/YA/adult fiction author, latest release The Ghost Locket

Amplify

“Writing is such a lonely task, it's really important for us to find kindred spirits who share our love of books and understand the difficulties of the craft.

“I have spent years building up a writing community by going along to as many literary events as I can, supporting other writers by buying their books and sharing my thoughts online, reviewing for newspapers, magazines and blogs, and by sharing my passion for everything bookish on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter & Instagram.

“I also amplify other writers' voices as much as I can by sharing their posts & their book covers. As a result, I have the most wonderful network of friends and colleagues (some of whom I've never met in person!)”

Kate Forsyth, bestselling author and AWC presenter, latest release The Crimson Thread

Quote by author and Australian Writers' Centre tutor Kate Forsyth on finding her writing community, next to a photo of her.

Invest

“AWC was actually a fundamental step in my journey to finding my writing community. It gave me a jumping-off point to taking myself seriously as a writer, because I had made this investment in myself.

“Then it led to meeting other writers, chatting with them in the alumni Facebook groups, learning from them, and sharing my own insights. The people I met became colleagues of a sort – people with whom I could share successes, commiserations, questions and ideas.”

Anna Spargo-Ryan, author and memoirist, latest release A Kind Of Magic.

Be social

“I found my writing community on Twitter, as well as many lovely readers! I also found queer community and disabled community there. Basically, Twitter is my main way of connecting with other people. Book-themed twitter chats, writing hashtags, and lots of great Twitter conversations with other writers over the years has really helped with the isolation of writing. I’ve even found writers to collaborate with.

“Before the pandemic, I used to go to in-person book launches, and I hope to get back to that at some point. It’s so nice to support others’ hard work, and their achievement in getting a book into the world”.

Jessica Walton, children’s/YA author, latest release Stars In Their Eyes

Find a mentor

“My writing community started with Sandy Campbell, former President of the CBCA NSW Branch who became a wonderful friend and mentor in my early years. She introduced me to other authors and over time the people I have come to rely on most are writer friends – some with whom I share a publisher, others I’ve met at festivals, events and on long flights.”

Jacqueline Harvey, children’s author, latest release Kensy and Max: Chasing Danger

Find your tribe

“I found my real community through kidlit events. You do meet heaps of people but some of them just stick. It's like being a kid in the school playground – there are plenty of kids around but somehow you find your tribe. And so quickly those people become your support system, advice givers and general cheerleaders.

“I've only been in this industry for four years but some of my best friends are my kidlit community, wonderful weirdos!”

Nat Amoore, children’s author and AWC Presenter, latest release We Run Tomorrow

 Quote by author and Australian Writers' Centre presenter Nat Amoore on finding her writing community, next to a photo of her.

Hang out

“I found mine in a kind of limping fashion: I started an MA in Creative Writing and was fortunate to have a supervisor who wrote speculative fiction and introduced me to people.

“I started going to writers' festivals, awards nights and book launches. I met other writers at uni and eventually at conventions around Australia (and ultimately internationally), but it started in those small ways of hanging out in the same spaces as other writers.”

Angela Slatter, author and AWC presenter, latest release What To Do When You Don’t Have A Book Coming Out

Book launches

“I met most of my writer friends at literary festivals. This is the main reason I go to festivals, so I'm always deeply disappointed when they keep the authors separated. Individual taxis between the hotel and the venue before each session? No way. Give me a tour bus and a crowded green room any day.

“Once I gave a talk at a primary school, and one of the teachers said he was a writer. I forced a smile and thought, ‘Oh boy, here we go.' He invited me to a book launch, and at the last second – for reasons that are still unfathomable to me – I decided to go. I'm glad I did, because that author is now a very good friend. We've played Dungeons & Dragons together every two weeks for the last four years. Plus his book (Eternal, by Ryan K. Lindsay) was excellent.

“I've since decided that book launches are the best way to meet your tribe, and not just because they're free (except for the cost of the book, which you should obviously buy). It's because the other writers in the audience are always the kinds of people who like to support each other. You might meet some readers and booksellers too, which is never a bad thing.”

Jack Heath, children’s and adult author, latest release Villain Kid Fully Busted


Author bio

Allison Tait is the author of three epic middle-grade adventure series for kids: The Mapmaker Chronicles, The Ateban Cipher and the Maven & Reeve Mysteries. A presenter at AWC and former co-host of the So You Want To Be A Writer podcast, Al has found her writing community using all of the tips above. Find out more at allisontait.com.

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