Writing a novel is a solo pursuit, but that doesn’t mean it has to be lonely.
In fact, our founder Louise started The Novelry precisely for that reason – she wanted company while writing, to write alongside a group of fellow writers and to glean feedback on her novel before she wrote it. We’ve now welcomed thousands of writers through our doors as they take the first steps on their storytelling journey, each receiving bespoke, personalised feedback on their novel from our team of writing coaches and publishing editors, and enjoying the support of our friendly writing community. You can read more about our story here.
How do you find a writing community?
Finding a writing community when you set out on your writing journey is essential. It might be a few trusted writers, or it could be a large online group; regardless, finding the place where you feel safe to discuss your ideas, connect with other writers, and give and receive valuable feedback is vital.
At The Novelry, we’ve fostered a supportive community of writers around the world with a full calendar of writing workshops and online events for our global online writing community, as well as in-person meetups in the US and UK where our writers can mingle and raise a glass to celebrate each others’ achievements. This week, our writers enjoyed the Annual Party in London – which took place in a magical secret garden tucked away in the heart of Covent Garden! We were thrilled to be joined by members from the United States, Canada, and the Far East for a balmy evening of cocktails on what might have been the last day of British summer.
You can enjoy some of the photos from the party below.
It was an electric atmosphere – hugs were exchanged, cocktail glasses raised; the conversation was buzzing as night fell and the twinkling lights of London lit up the beautiful garden. Whenever we come together as writers, we raise our game, sharing ideas and insights, and not least boosting our morale buoyed by celebrating each milestone together (and getting a well-deserved slap on the back!).
I really enjoyed The Novelry party. It was wonderful to be among so many writers. A ream of writers? A plot of writers? A flow of writers? There must be a collective noun for us, but we creatives can be solitary creatures, and it’s not often so many writers gather with a social focus. While I chatted to The Novelry friends, both old and new, I enjoyed a real sense of belonging and support. Cocktails, candles and chat in a community garden? Yes please.
—Deirdre Huston, The Finished Novel Course
We enjoyed seeing our writers together so much that, on our blog today, we’ve put together five reasons why your writing will improve when you find your writing community. Read on below the photo gallery to see how your writing will benefit when you find your tribe!
The Novelry Annual Party 2023
The benefits of a writing community
1. Immersing yourself in the writing life means you’re more likely to finish your novel
Something we’ve observed over the years is the more involved our writers get in the community, the better they do. Boldly put: the writers who immerse themselves in the writing life are often the most likely to finish their novels. The writers who often fall off our radar tend to join fewer writing classes or team chats. It’s easier to finish a manuscript when your comrades in the trenches are writing with their sleeves rolled up at your side! If you want to finish your novel, you’ll thrive with a good writing community around you.
What does a good online writing community look like?
It should be an active community with members posting regularly, where you can meet and message other writers with similar interests, discover niche threads on literary agents and the publishing industry, share writing prompts and the latest writing contests, find the perfect beta reader for your novel, and earn karma points by giving constructive feedback on other writers’ manuscripts.
At The Novelry, we host regular genre fiction workshops on Zoom for writers tackling historical fiction, crime and suspense, romance and up-lit, children’s fiction and YA, and science fiction and fantasy writing. These are small supportive groups with genre specialism, hosted by a writing coach who is published in the very genre you’re discussing! We host live Q&A sessions with leading literary agents and bestselling authors every two weeks where you can ask your question of a huge bestselling author – previous guests have included Yann Martel, Kristin Hannah, Tess Gerritsen, Steven Erikson and Sophie Kinsella.
All this provides inspiration and motivation as you continue on the path to completing your novel.
Before I joined The Novelry, I’d never actively tried to find a writing group. I’d heard too many horror stories from friends, so I didn’t think the risk was worth the reward. However, while starting first drafts was never an issue, finishing them rarely happened, let alone the magic of embarking on a second or third draft. Taking The Ninety Day Novel and now The Big Edit at The Novelry definitely changed and improved my approach to the process, but the community aspect has been of equal importance. I’ve never been this close to finishing a novel I’m proud of, and it’s because I found a solid course and a positive, safe, and encouraging community. Writing may be solitary, and we may not be on the same roads, but at least here, all our roads are parallel.
—Ciara Blount, The Novel Development Course
2. Grow your writing craft with expert input on your story
Some of the best online writing communities have members at all stages of their writing careers. What better way to learn the ups and downs and peaks and troughs of the industry than through other writers’ journeys, helping you prepare for your own pathway to publication?
Writers have always learned from other writers. Writers help writers.
C.S Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien were in a writing group together called The Inklings. While both writers were working on fantasy novel series – Lewis on The Chronicles of Narnia and Tolkien on The Lord of the Rings – they met every Monday morning to talk about the writing process. Others started to join them, and soon the group swelled to nineteen men' so they started meeting on Thursday evenings to share and discuss their work.
By finding and sharing a writing space, and working together in the coffee shops and pubs of Oxford, these writers went beyond a highly speculative first draft to write the all-time classic bestselling fiction books. Surely it’s no coincidence they worked together? Working alone causes us to lose interest in a project. Working with other writers, we build on the shoulders of giants, dragons, monsters and magicians!
At The Novelry, our team of writing coaches – who are all published authors – host weekly Story Clinics for our members over Zoom, and our editors – who each hail from the ‘Big Five’ publishing houses, including HarperCollins and Penguin Random House – host regular Ask the Editor Q&As and Submission Clinics for those about to query agents. They’re here to give advice and offer camaraderie – and have lots of fun while doing so.
What’s more, our team regularly walks the halls in our friendly online community, answering questions and chatting about the latest book news – all in addition to your one-on-one coaching calls when you join us on a writing course.
Finding my writing community at The Novelry has been like striking gold and finding a treasure trove of like-minded writers! There’s an exceptional camaraderie not only with fellow writers but also with the fantastic team of coaches and editors. It’s been extremely helpful to receive feedback at the most crucial stages of writing and to hear from others who are going through the same process.
—Sarah Gadhavi, The Novel Development Course
3. Build a critique circle and find beta readers to receive actionable feedback
Getting feedback on your writing is an important part of most writing groups, but this is where the timing is important. In fact, it’s crucial.
At The Novelry, unlike many other creative writing courses, we suggest you don’t ask for feedback on your first draft. Your first draft is just for you; it should be messy, and a little bit inconsistent, and change voice throughout as you uncover the story for the first time and find your writing voice. We suggest waiting to receive feedback until you’re on your second draft – if you’re thinking about asking beta readers for feedback, you’ll find more about our approach to feedback in this blog.
For writers on second draft and beyond, we offer one-on-one feedback sessions with our publishing editors who will help you get your chapters in great shape, and the Ultimate Manuscript Assessment for writers who are thinking about submitting to literary agents, as well as our own bespoke submission service. At our private online writing community, our members help each other with constructive feedback in the workshop to help each other raise their skills, pointing out what they like and what’s working for them in your work.
When I joined The Novelry, I didn’t really consider the possibility that I might make friends. I thought I would be supported in writing, but otherwise alone. But then something wonderful happened. I met people who had read the same books I had. Who understood what it meant to write every day, who I could make laugh and who gave me a pep talk when I needed it. I formed message threads and did buddy reads and found people to hang out by the buffet with at the annual party. Perhaps most importantly, I’ve found people who can offer me honest, knowledgeable critiques and help me grow as a writer. And the best bit of that? I know I help them grow, too. That’s what a community should be.
—Adam Langley, The Novel Development Course
4. Make friendships, and enjoy support and encouragement on the days your writing doesn’t go so well
We all have days when the words don’t come easily and the page remains a little too blank. In the coming weeks, our writing coach Emylia Hall will talk about tackling and overcoming writer’s block right here on our blog. When you have a friendly and supportive writing community, you’re never alone – on the good days or the bad.
Commiserate together. Replot together. Read the latest book releases together (then read their one-star reviews on Amazon!). Eat chocolate together. Nobody understands the pain like a fellow writer, so lean on your community when you need them. We’ve all been there.
When I joined The Novelry I found my people. It is the best writing community I’ve ever encountered. Soul friends. They inspire me to keep writing even during my difficult times. They are a sounding board when I’m a little lost. They are the best part of my day.
—Amy Clegg, The Finished Novel Course
5. Grow your network early
Your writing network will one day include your literary agent, editor, marketer and publicist. But a supportive network of writers can hold your hand throughout your writing career.
It’s a secret all published authors know: nobody understands the ups and downs of publishing like another published author. Start early! When publication day comes, you will have a community behind you sharing the news and buying the book, and our graduates are invited back for live Q&As and blogs so we can raise a glass together. You can read more about our Success Stories here.
I’m a novice writer. On the cusp of retirement this year means I’m on the cusp of moving away from my local business community of twenty-five years, so I need a new community. I need it for my personal sanity and also to learn from and contribute to. The Novelry has become my go-to place. It’s a lonely profession and having others to learn from, contribute to and commiserate with is priceless.
—Skip Weisman, The Finished Novel Course
Wherever you find your writing community – whether that’s an online writing group or a real-world, in-person group with meet-ups ‘IRL’ (and remember, The Novelry offers both!) – embrace the writing life. Your novel will benefit and you’ll become a better writer with the support and encouragement of a community.