The Case for the Writing Community
Why, for writers, giving back is the key to growth in our industry
When I first joined Twitter in 2017, writing had been a part of my life for less than a year. Everyone was a stranger. No critique partners or beta readers, no random writing friends who only tweeted their angsty poems. I didn't even know which agents and editors to follow so I could daydream about them telling me they loved my books.
And yet, eventually, this butterfly emerged from his cocoon and ventured out into the wild. I tweeted in hashtag games, participated in giveaways, and began to hit up the occasional writer with requests to swap critiques. In effect, I slowly found community. But what I got wrong at the time, and what I see new writers getting wrong, is that I took this immense privilege for granted. I thought I was entitled to these games and events.
The opposite was true.
All of these weren't opportunities I seized, they were given to me. These community-building events were built on the backs of folks who had their own platforms figured out. Folks who bravely decided to venture out and give back themselves.
There's Brenda Drake, who started PitchWars, probably the most well-known mentoring competition on Twitter. Besides her, there's Stuart White who began the WriteMentor program and Alexa Donne with Author Mentor Match.
Equally monumental for writers are pitch competitions, of which agent Beth Phelan's DVpit is the creme de la creme. She's done more for marginalized writers through that event than the whole of the publishing industry combined (my opinion, but likely also a fact).
A unifying theme here is that specific individuals stepped up, whatever their motivations, building spaces for writers to connect. They lifted writers up with them, and the whole of our little community was better for it. So, once I began seeing the benefits of these events firsthand, gaining the best mentorship, and landing a wonderful agent, I decided to start laying the foundation for such a space of my own. A space where my friends, followers, and everyone in between can connect and grow.
Now, when asked why I like to run so many giveaways (these days it's almost twice a month!), why I ventured out to create an Instagram or this newsletter, my answer is simple: I'm building community.
And I'm excited for you to be a part of it.