The Write Stuff: My Experience With Writing Communities

Prior to the pandemic, the only real experiences I had with writing communities (that were not school related) was NaNoWriMo. Unfortunately, I never really engaged with the community aspect of that particular writing challenge. Part of the problem was my social anxiety that I had not been properly dealing with until more recently. I felt uncomfortable engaging with strangers over the internet. And for someone who hoped to publish their work, it was pretty bad that I was uncomfortable letting strangers read what I wrote too. And then came the pandemic. Not only did the ensuing events in my personal life allow me to focus more on both my writing and my mental health, but I also found myself becoming a member of two online writing communities. Both have been valuable resources.

Office Assistant Finn protecting my notebook
Reedsy - YouTube

Reedsy: I initially joined this community for Reedsy Prompts. Every week, members receive a theme and five prompts that fit within that theme. The challenge is to use one of the prompts to write a short story, and the winning short story will earn $50 USD. Members can comment on other stories and offer feedback or praise (or both). From Reedsy Prompts, I branched out into Reedsy Learning to sign up for free online courses, and then Reedsy Marketplace to hire professionals to help get my book ready for publication.

Pros: Reedsy Prompts has been great for challenging me to write in different styles and outside of my preferred genre. And it’s been invaluable with getting me comfortable with strangers reading and commenting on my work. I’ve learned really useful things about writing, editing, and self-publishing through Readsy Learning – and all of the courses are free! But the best part of Reedsy is the Marketplace. I was able to find both the perfect editor and cover designer for a short story collection I’ll be publishing this summer. The platform was easy to use and made it easy to collaborate with the professionals I hired.

Cons: The Reedsy Learning courses are sent in the form of newsletters, one lesson per day. For some of them, I wish I could have access to the whole thing all at once. For Reedsy Prompts, thanks to the karma points (and I’m still not entirely sure what function they serve), sometimes it feels like there’s a bit of a popularity contest going on. There are some people who ask for feedback on their work because they genuinely want it, but there are others who just want the likes to get the karma points.

Overall thoughts: I’ve been with Reedsy for about a year now and it has proven to be a very valuable resource in my journey to get published. Although they’re useful to me now, I’m not sure if I’ll continue to use Reedsy Prompts and Reedsy Learning forever, but I will 100% keep going back to Reedsy Marketplace whenever I need to hire a professional editor, cover designer, etc.

AutoCrit - YouTube

AutoCrit: I recently joined AutoCrit when my husband told be about an ad he had seen for the Nightmare Fuel course. The company’s claim to fame is their exclusive editing software, only available if you’re a paid subscriber (or, for the duration of your course). They offer a range of genre fiction courses, and they have an online forum available through Mighty Networks. Through both their courses and online forum, they host Q&As with industry professionals. They also hold the occasional writing contest.

Pros: The people running the various aspects of AutoCrit are not only very visible within the community, but they are lovely people. Most importantly, they aren’t afraid to let their pets wander into frame during Zoom meetings. The Nightmare Fuel course was well worth the price of admission, and I got full access to all of the member perks of the community for the duration of the month long course. I also took part in their most recent community writing challenge and really enjoyed how they handled it. We received inspirational emails every day of the two week period, and there was a YouTube and/or Zoom live stream every week day with special events, pep talks, and guest Q&As. Plus, the AutoCrit software itself is a really interesting editing tool that goes above and beyond simply looking for grammatical errors. You can see if you’re using too many adverbs, find out your book’s reading level, compare your work to other books in your genre, and more!

Cons: The membership is a bit too pricey for me right now. The software is really fun and helpful to use, but I can’t justify spending that kind of money right now. Unfortunately, that means I also miss out on the Might Networks online forum and guest speaker Q&As. Without paying for the membership, the only way I can really stay involved with the community is through YouTube and their Facebook Group.

Overall thoughts: When I can justify the expense, I absolutely want to buy the full membership. The guest Q&As alone are worth it. I also want to look into taking some of the other genre fiction courses down the line. I’ve only been a part of the AutoCrit community for two months, but I have a feeling that I’ll be with them for a long time.

Office Assistant Finn asleep on the job

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