“I get by with a little help from my friends.” This line from the old Beatles song came to mind recently when I hit a low point in my writing and personal life. Although the Beatles may not have been thinking of friends the way I do, the statement is true.

Writers are constantly reminded of the isolation and loneliness of the profession, but thanks to email, writers groups and social media, we don’t have to feel alone anymore. Here are some benefits to being part of the online writing community:

1)      While there may be no one in your family who understands what you’re talking about when you tell them what your characters did that day, which was a total surprise to you, other writers can relate. We know these people that are living in our minds are very real and not a figment of our imagination. Non-writers view that as odd.

2)      When our work is rejected or given scathing critiques, other writers feel our pain because they’ve been there too. I don’t know of any writer who hasn’t had something rejected or criticized. As they say, it comes with the territory, or the business. I’m thankful I can turn to my writing buddies to pull me up when I’ve fallen down, and encourage me to keep trying.

3)       If I have a question about format or style or just brainstorming, I can reach out to other writers who are able to help me.

4)      Many people combine work and family, which is challenging in itself, but working from the home adds its own unique demands. As writers, we need to be able to tune out peripheral distractions, schedule our time efficiently, and summon the creative muse when we have time, instead of waiting for the muse to appear whenever it desires. We struggle with guilt over the division of our attention, but
fortunately, we can commiserate with fellow-writers about this dilemma.

5)      In addition to the time constraints, our minds can get cluttered or stifled by family matters. Problems at home can create roadblocks to creative thinking, and it becomes necessary to find detours to work around them. Something weighing heavily on us can be shared with our writing friends who not only sympathize, but will pray for us and the situation.

6)      Sharing success – Whether a minor success such as writing x number of words a day or a major event like getting a contract, who knows more about what that means than other writers?

What a relief it is to know I don’t have to travel this road alone. Thank God for electronic media that enables us to communicate with friends wherever they are – whether it’s Alaska, California or Maryland, whether sitting at their desks, in a coffee shop or traveling. I am blessed to be part of this writing family.

“God sets the lonely in families.” Psalm 68:6a