August 19th, 2019

The Power of the Writing Tribe

by Christina Delay

Ten years ago I was newly married, living in a new city, sans kids, and alone a LOT as the hubs was starting a new business. My community existed of my husband, a betta fish named Albie, and a hyper puppy named Trogdor the Burninator.

I turned to writing. 

In the past ten years, my writing has turned from a hobby to a career, led to starting a creatively driven business, and most important of all, opened the floodgate to a tribe of friends that I am eternally grateful for.

Writing does not have to be lonely. 

In fact, it’s much better when it’s not. 

How to find your writing tribe

[Note: You might call it a community, team, posse, clan. Insert your favorite word for your peeps as you read on!]

First of all, you kinda have to leave your house.

I know, I know. Introverts Unite. Trust me. Totally get it.

October 2018 Cruising Writers Writing Tribe

While you can find people to connect with online, and that’s exactly how one of my strongest tribes started, eventually, you need to be in the same room with your tribe.

October 2018 Cruising Writers Writing Tribe

Some suggestions:

  • Join a writing association near you
  • Attend a writing workshop or conference
  • Try an in-person critique group
  • Invite a writer in your community to do writing sprints in your local coffee shop
  • Take on a new writing buddy on a trial-only basis
  • Join online Facebook groups of other authors with either similar goals or similar genre—and start a local meet up once a month
  • Start with a small group that you can connect with (it’s why I keep our Cruising Writers Retreats small!)

Benefits of a writing tribe

I’ve been reminded about how grateful I am for my writing tribe recently. 

With the release of my new book, Song of Destiny, they not only cheered for me, but they ran contests and giveaways, invited me to post in and takeover their reader groups, wrote cover blurbs for me, shared my release with their readers and friends...all without me even asking.

They also helped me work through some major issues I’m having with a book I’m drafting. And went with me to visit a grave.

The grave and the book are related.

When you’re facing writer’s block, self-doubt, dead-end plots, self-doubt, cliche storylines, self-doubt, creative burnout, self-doubt, your tribe will be there for you. And you’ll be there for them.

They’ll remind you that you can actually write and that you don’t have to struggle alone.

  • They will visit cemeteries with you.
  • They will love you through your comma deficiencies.
  • They will be up from brainstorming, with very little bribing (coffee, tea, wine, and chocolate are all usually acceptable bribes).
  • They will cheer for you when you win.
  • They will cry with you when you don’t.
  • They will big your biggest cheerleader (and if they’re not, they’re not your tribe).
  • They will share writing experience—what worked for them, what didn’t.
  • They’ll be real with you.
  • They won’t be afraid to tell you that YCDB—you can do better.
  • They will lift you up with them.
  • They will read your pages and re-read your pages and re-read your pages and re-read your pages. 
  • They will make this writing journey unbelievably life-affirming, joyful, and fun.

Do you have a tribe like that? If not, don’t worry. They are out there.

Take the next step and kiss your fears goodbye

Finding a writing tribe can be a trial and error process spread over many years. For most of us, it won’t happen overnight. It takes a lot to learn to be vulnerable with people, from our selves to our stories. 

Just remember, the first step of any journey is often the scariest. But take it, and it’ll make the rest so much easier. Here's a link to a fun, motivational video:

If you’ve already found your writing support team, congratulations! Would you be willing to share how you found your tribe?

About Christina

Christina Delay is the hostess of Cruising Writers as well as an award-winning author of Young Adult Fantasy and Adult Suspense. She may also have a new series out under a pen name. When she's not cruising the Caribbean, she's dreaming up new writing retreats to take talented authors on or giving into the demands of imaginary people to tell their stories.


About Cruising Writers

Cruising Writers brings writers together with bestselling authors, an agent, and a world-renowned writing craft instructor writing retreats around the world. Cruise with us to the Bahamas this November with Alexandra Sokoloff of the internationally-renowned Screenwriting Tricks for Fiction Authors, Kerry Anne King—Washington Post and Amazon Charts bestselling author, and Michelle Grajkowski of 3 Seas Literary.

28 responses to “The Power of the Writing Tribe”

  1. jrupp25 says:

    This is a great article and I agree entirely. I can't pass it on through social media, however. Tribe is a sensitive word. Maybe this post can be re-worded using group instead?

    • Julie Glover says:

      The second definition of "tribe" on Merriam-Webster is "a group of persons having a common character, occupation, or interest," and I cannot tell you how often I've heard that word used positively among writers' groups and at conferences. It's a legitimate use of the word, and our guest author did a great job with this post. Thanks for reading it as intended!

      • The word “tribe” exudes strength and inclusiveness of a group who share a common goal. I am part of a writing group but it doesn’t quite feel like a ‘tribe’ yet. Hope that changes. Great article!

  2. Laura Drake says:

    I disagree, with jrupp25. Tribe is an honorable word, maybe borrowed from another culture, but used with love.

    I wouldn't be published without my tribe. And my tribe started right here - the women of WITS. We were a crit group before the blog, and they had my back when I was vulnerable. They buoyed me up, cheered me on, and NO one was happier with my successes. And me, of theirs.

    I don't care HOW big an introvert you are, you NEED this.

  3. sanbari says:

    Pack or posse or "peeps" might be okay too. I'm sure you don't mean to offend but "tribe" has a negative connotation that distracts from the value of your article, which I enjoyed.

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Sanbari,

      Please see my note below to jrupp. We appreciate your view. We hear you. And we have taken steps to ensure that all can get what they need from this post. Thanks for stopping in.

  4. jrupp25 says:

    Julie, Laura, this is my go-to blog site for craft and inspiration. I pass on most everything I read here. I'm shaking as I type because I would never want to offend. But inclusivity is very important and is one of the hardest things to talk about. It's even harder to make changes in our dialogues and in our writing. It's not enough to decide that words or names are okay because you don't use them in a negative way. Intension isn't a factor in this case. And Merriam-Webster is not the arbiter of diversity, equality, and inclusivity in America. Rather than doubling down, let's actually free ourselves and say okay, innocent mistake, let's make it right. It's such a small thing but can have a huge impact.

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Hi jrupp! Thanks so much for commenting. I know it took courage to speak out for your beliefs and we appreciate it. We are glad you trust us enough to do so. Also, go you for putting this post to immediate use!

      Example:
      They will share writing experience—what worked for them, what didn’t.
      They’ll be real with you.
      They won’t be afraid to tell you that YCDB—you can do better.
      They will lift you up with them.

      Rather than changing Christina's entire post - and I should add she is about the warmest, most inclusive person you will ever meet - I have added a note near the top of the post:

      "You might call it a community, team, posse, clan. Insert your favorite word for your peeps as you read on!"

      We understand completely if this post is just not your cookie, and if you don't feel comfortable sharing it. We hope you will come back for the next one (which happens to be mine)! Thanks for hanging out with us here at WITS.

  5. Fae Rowen says:

    I know several people who say they just can't share their writing with others, that they want to wait until it's published. I've always wondered how they can hold something so close, hidden from all other views, then toss it to the publishing winds without at least a second glance from another writer. We get better with practice, but without my piano teacher pointing out that I was hitting a "clunker" every time I played a certain measure of Chopin, I would never have known.

    I have to thank all my critique partners for their careful reading and suggestions to improve my manuscripts. That only happens when you get out there and find hearts you can trust your precious stories to.

  6. Leslie says:

    Excellent post, Christina. My debut book is coming out next month, and without my local and online writing friends, it wouldn't be happening. Online, they cheer my successes and like you, offer opportunities to share about myself and my book. And locally, they brainstorm, critique, and keep me sane. A group of writer friends carried me through a dark period when I couldn't write because my husband was sick. They were with me at his funeral. And they encouraged me when I finally started writing again. Writing, itself, may be a solitary act, but the writing life is better when shared with others who understand it.

  7. Great essay, Christina! And for me it came at a very good time. I'm wrapping up my WIP and am very, very thankful for all the fellow writers, past and present, who have encouraged me. And thank you, too!

  8. Carol Michell Storey says:

    When they say it takes a village to raise a child...well, it takes a tribe to write a book. Thank you, Christina for being part of my tribe. You have made my journey all the better! Awesome article!

  9. Ann G. says:

    I found my in-person tribe with the Arizona Historical Authors group, of which I'm now a co-leader. I had been to two other groups, but this one included published authors and wannabees, which I was at the time, and everyone was not only friendly, but helpful. I discovered a second tribe in Toronto, where I spend several months a year. They are big into sharing and critiquing each other's work, and they publish an anthology yearly. And WFWA was the third, not yet in-person group that has provided so much information, encouragement, and welcome. When I published my first novel in 2018, all these groups were there to cheer me on. I feel like a real author now, although I still have much to learn. I could not have done it without them all.

  10. dholcomb1 says:

    The closest thing I have to a writing tribe is a couple of online friends.

    denise

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