Get Thee a Community

Let me give you a glimpse into my writing life.

Every other week, my writing group and I physically meet to discuss and brainstorm 15 pages (ahem, or variations thereof). We are each other’s alpha readers, knowingly plowing through pages that are drafty and have notes that say *something romantic happens here* or *research 15th century churches* or the like. We point out plot holes, character inconsistencies (like that time when I had a character with two different last names in three pages – not a chick, didn’t get married), where there needs to be more reaction, any reaction, and reminders that blocking out the physicality of a scene is pretty essential. 

As I have finished a revision, I sent my current MS off to four beta readers, then jumped on two different forum pages (one specific to what I write and another where there are several people in varying levels of published) asking for some feedback on my query. I’m a member of half a dozen facebook pages for writers, seeing questions asked and asking my own, as well as communicating when face to face visits are possible. 

This level of activity spills over to my Instagram, Pinterest, Goodreads and Twitter as well. 
If you have never done any of these things before, this can sound like a pretty daunting level of involvement. There are times when I will have internet quiet for a while, but I’m pretty consistent about hitting all these things at least several times a week.
It is a lot of work and there is no way that I can deny that. Some of it is done while I’m listening to my daughter learn a new position on her cello, while tapping my foot while another understands the heartbeat of Baroque music at her viola lesson, or while watching my son kick a soccer ball toward the goal. Some of it is done when I am watching M*A*S*H or Scandal, or when I have ten minutes before dinner is ready. I transitioned into this level of activity – it didn’t happen over night. 
But let’s look at what happens because of this again. 
Four different people gave me feedback on the draft of my book. 
And additional four totally different readers are contributing after a more complete reading experience. 
And the request I had for people to critique my query granted me with six reviews. 
This is all happening before I submit a single query letter to an agent. 
Because as much as writing is a quiet, solitary, individualized creation experience, the feedback, camaraderie and flat out friendship that occur when we stretch beyond our awkward not sure what I’m doing comfort zones improve our writing beyond what was previously believed possible. I have had the opportunity to read some amazing books that aren’t yet, to share in the ebbs and flows of this writing endeavor that let me know what I’m experiencing is normal, as well as leaning to those who might be a step or two behind me in the journey with encouragement and offers to help. 
It’s the give and take cycle that allows writers to have success. 
How have you connected with people in the writing community? Suggestions for someone who is just starting out? 

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Tasha Seegmiller is a mom to three kids and high school English teacher in Southern Utah. She writes contemporary women’s fiction with a dash of magic. Her loves include Diet Coke, owls, chocolate and cinnamon bears. She is the managing editor for the Women’s Fiction Writers Association quarterly newsletter.

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