I’ve been building communities for years. I’ve developed in-person groups, Facebook groups, Twitter communities, Slack channels, Discord servers — pretty much anything you can think of. Much of my community-building work through the years has focused on social media.
The Wired-owned imprint, Backchannel, picked up my 2014 exploration of Snapchat. In that article, I equated social networking as the latest means humans connect.
Humans are hardwired to be social. We’re constantly looking for the newest way to connect with our friends and family members. Currently, it comes in the form of tweets and texts. During the Seinfeld era, it was the face-to-face pop-in. In the 50s, it was the telephone.
In 2014 (and much of the last decade), Twitter was the means of digital connection. Twitter was a massive success for connecting with writers, but the platform changed. Connecting is much more difficult to wade through all the spam. But Twitter isn’t the only problem.
Social media itself is changing. Social media began focused on communities connected around a common interest, goal, or proximity (who remembers AIM?). Facebook and Twitter expanded the audience to include everyone.
Broadcast-focused social media, like Facebook and Twitter, allowed us to explore and embrace our many interests without requiring separate groups. I could talk about writing, nonprofit work, and tv shows on Twitter without jumping between different platforms. However, the problem with broadcast-focused social media platforms is that they taught us to crave the validation of faceless strangers and focus on a single niche that finds traction within algorithmic feeds. This trend is being quickly rejected across the social media spectrum.
Mastodon’s explosion highlights that people crave a social connection that isn’t driven by algorithms. While Mastodon is great, there’s room for something more that connects people around a common interest but acknowledges that writing isn’t the sum of a person’s identity.
The social media pendulum is swinging back towards smaller communities and groups rather than anonymous audiences. In many ways, digital communities seek the equivalent of the Seinfeld-era pop-in. A place where people are more than nameless faces in a sea of digital people. A place where a common interest unites but doesn’t prohibit additional discussions. For the last few weeks, I’ve been working with a team of amazing people to create a place that fulfills these goals.
I’m super excited to announce My Writing Community!
What Is My Writing Community?
My Writing Community is a Discord server purpose-built for writers by writers. We hope that it becomes a place to talk about writing and also have the space to explore other things we’re interested in — like what we’re reading, watching, and creating. We can even talk about food! Everybody loves eating, right?
The Writing Cooperative’s previous Discord server was just for people connected to the publication. Instead, My Writing Community is built by a fantastic team of people (more on them in a minute) and unites us all in a shared space. This is not The Writing Cooperative’s community; this is a place for everyone to connect. It’s called My Writing Community because we want you to feel part of it. We want you to call the Discord server my writing community, too!
Each team member also has exclusive channels for their supporters. My channel is for whatever you want to talk about. The latest issue of This Week In Writing, my favorite donut flavor, your latest LEGO creation. Whatever you’re into!
Being built on Discord also provides the potential for future opportunities. For example, we might host live chats and interviews available exclusively within My Writing Community. Or we might have a class that shows how to compile your Medium stories into a Kindle eBook. Perhaps live Q&A sessions with fellow writers. The sky is the limit!
Why Is This Important?
As Simon Sinek says, “start with why.” Hopefully, the why is self-evident in the explanation above. Writing is a lonely business. We built a place where writers can network with other writers. Sure, we can talk about what we’re writing, but we can also talk about the other things we’re interested in — like a modern Seinfeld pop-in! My Writing Community isn’t a place to spam links; it’s a place to engage and connect.
How you engage with My Writing Community is informed by your interests and will evolve as we go. But here are a few ways you can engage with the community:
- Request feedback on current drafts and published work.
- Discuss Medium, Substack, and other writing platforms.
- Request sensitivity readers.
- Ask for help with titles, featured images, or submission rules.
- Collaborate with others who have specific experiences or skills.
- Commiserate with other writers.
- Chat about the latest show (who else watched Wednesday?), book, movie, or recipe.
People are genuinely interested in seeing you succeed when they care about you. Seeing each other as whole, fully-fleshed-out characters is difficult online when we all focus on social connection that markets ourselves. That’s why My Writing Community invites you to be your complete self. Our conversations about Star Wars or why pineapple is the best pizza topping help us truly see each other. It’s how communities are formed and how they thrive.
Who’s Behind My Writing Community?
My Writing Community is a collective approach to building a digital community. It’s built and supported by a team of amazing people with different interests and writing focuses.
Meet the fantastic team:
Eric Pierce is a Michigan-based writer, gamer, and pop culture nerd. He runs Fanfare, Medium’s largest pop culture publication, and freelances for some of the biggest names in entertainment. His Substack is the best one you’ve never heard of.
Gretchen Alice is a writer, librarian, and breakfast taco enthusiast living in Austin, Texas. She loves stories as much as she loves food and is passionate about sharing both with the world. You can follow along with her Eating/Reading journey on Instagram.
Founder of The Writing Cooperative and author of Write Now, Justin has supported and encouraged writers online for years. He’s also a nonprofit expert and aids organizations with fundraising and strategic development. Justin is also a donut aficionado and occasionally dresses like a Jedi.
Sinem is a Medium writer with millions of views on her stories and the founder of a community with over 10k Medium writers. Inside her Medium Writing Academy, she helped hundreds of writers to start writing online and grow their audience.
Zulie is a content creator, blogger, vlogger, and cat mom who helps writers grow their blogging empire. She has helped thousands of people make money writing about what they love. You can find her work at zuliewrites.com, zulie.medium.com, and youtube.com/@zuliewrites.
What Comes With My Writing Community?
As an extra bonus, we’re running a book club hosted by our resident librarian, Gretchen! This month, we’re reading The Storied Life of AJ Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin. We’ll start a discussion on Feb 16th, culminating with a live audio chat on March 2nd. Read an excellent book and discuss it with fellow writers!
This is an example of the exclusive community events we hope to host as My Writing Community grows. Join us now and help shape the future of our amazing shared space!
Join My Writing Community
My Writing Community is invite-only. Invitations are available directly from each team member, granting access to exclusive channels within My Writing Community.
To get my invite link, subscribe to This Week In Writing. There’s a special launch offer available, and if you’re already a subscriber, check your inbox for more details.
I’m really excited about My Writing Community. I look forward to connecting with you in a whole new way!