This is the first in a three-part series on finding and building a writing community. This post will focus on online resources, both free and paid. The second post will discuss local resources, both free and paid, and the third will expand to include traveling to workshops, retreats, and conferences.

Writing can be a very lonely business. Many, if not most, writers work alone, at home, with little companionship or regular contact with peers or colleagues. I have friends who are full-time freelancers that spend their days in a home office, though some are now migrating toward “shared spaces.” Why? Writers need community. After all, one of the main reasons we write is to connect with others through our words. But that’s not always enough, even for an introverted writer.

How, then, do writers find community? There are countless ways, and some don’t even require you to leave your home office. We certainly have an advantage in these modern times compared to the many writers who are featured here at American Writers Museum. There is a wealth of resources available via a simple wi-fi connection. One of the easiest, and free, ways to connect with other writers is through the use of social media. Personally, I can speak to using Twitter and Facebook, though there are plenty of opportunities available through other sites such as LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, and Google plus. I resisted jumping on the social media bandwagon for many years, until I attended my first big writing conference in 2009, and quickly realized all that I was missing out on in terms of networking and finding resources.

Using Twitter to find writers and writing related topics is as simple as searching using the following hashtags: #writing, #amwriting, #poetry, #fiction, #memoir, #cnf (creative nonfiction), and as many more as you can imagine. The general vibe amongst authors on Twitter is one of mutual support—or, “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.” In other words, instead of marketing themselves directly, they often share and praise the works of others, expecting the same in kind. It’s also a great idea to follow your favorite authors, writing magazines/publications, and other accounts that provide free resources.

Facebook is a great way to connect with your favorite authors, who often have fan pages that you can “follow.” It’s not the same as being “friends” with someone, but you do see whatever they post on their fan page and can comment and interact with them there. If you’ve really connected with that author, by correspondence, or meeting them at a conference, you may even become Facebook friends with them. Fifty years ago, you could write a letter to an author, hope for a response, and if you’re lucky receive a form letter. Nowadays you might get a “like” on a comment or even get a comment back within minutes. It may not be as personal, but it is immediate and affirming!

Now, if you’d like to spend a few (or more) dollars, you can join online forums, writing groups, classes, etc. Some of the ones I can recommend from personal use are: National Association for Memoir Writers, The Word Cellar Writers Guild, Writers Online Workshops, and memberships/subscriptions through both Writer’s Digest and Creative Nonfiction Magazine. These offer resources in the form of archived articles on a range of writing topics, recordings of lessons, speakers, interviews, etc., and multiple opportunities to interact with other writers through forums, group calls, and group coaching.

There are plenty of other online platforms and resources like the ones discussed here that could be used to connect with other writers, but these are the ones I’ve personally used and found success with. My next post will be on connecting with other writers locally and in person, so get ready to get out from behind that screen and meet some other writers face-to-face!

-Lisa Cottrell