Being a Part of a Writing Community

A Pen In Each Hand

By Beaver

When we started Toasted Cheese, the critique forums were very popular. This was in large part because the editors put a lot of their own time into giving feedback. Our hope was that by leading by example, by showing writers how to give good feedback, they would eventually take over from us and become self-sufficient. Ultimately, our goal was for us to be dispensable at the forums. One day, we thought, our members won’t need us anymore because they’ll be able to rely on each other.

That’s not what happened. Instead, as the editors became busier, and weren’t able to spend as much time giving feedback, writers continued to post work and request feedback, but few gave it in return (those who did: we appreciate you so much!). The less feedback that was given, the fewer new requests that were made, until posting at the critique forums slowed to a trickle and died off.

We loved giving feedback—that’s how this whole thing started—but no one can give and give and give indefinitely without being refueled. Eventually, you burn out. Other things, things that do reward you for doing them, take priority. If you want someone to keep giving, you can’t just take take take, you have to give back.

I know some writers are reluctant to comment on others’ work because they don’t think they’re qualified. But if you write yourself, if you read, then yes, you’re qualified! It may take some time to figure out how to articulate your thoughts, but just like writing fiction or whatever your genre of choice is, the only way to get there is by practicing. The more you do it, the better you’ll get at it.

Others shy away from critiquing or reviewing because they don’t want to “waste” their limited writing time commenting on others’ work. But I will let you in on a writing secret: giving feedback is one of the best ways to improve your own writing. When you read your own work, you are blind to many of its flaws. When you read others’ work, those same flaws jump out at you. Feedback, critiques, reviews—all of these will give you insights that you can put into practice in your own writing. The time you spend on them will never be wasted.

Our reviews editor, Shelley, receives many review requests from writers with no connection to Toasted Cheese. An existing connection with TC is a stipulation because Candle-Ends is about supporting our writing community. You have to put something into it before you can get something back. If you’d like us to review your work, there are many ways you can establish a connection with TC—one of those, of course, is by writing a review of another writer’s work.

Speak

A Pen In Each Hand

By Beaver

community:  a group of people who have the same interests

We love that you love visiting and reading TC (yes, we see you—hi!), but we’d love it even more if you interacted with us, too. So in this exercise we challenge you to speak up. Comment on a post or article. Talk to us on Twitter or Facebook. Start a thread at the forums. Do something to give us an opportunity to get to know you better.

If you appreciate TC, speaking up is the easiest way to give back. We know it can be scary to delurk, but you can do it! Help put the community back in writing community. We can’t do it without you.

The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud. Coco Chanel (1883-1971)

I write for those women who do not speak, for those who do not have a voice because they were so terrified, because we are taught to respect fear more than ourselves. We’ve been taught that silence would save us, but it won’t. Audre Lorde (1934-1992)

I think most of us fear reaching the end of our life and looking back regretting the moments we didn’t speak up. … there’s a time for silence, and there’s a time for waiting your turn. But if you know how you feel, and you so clearly know what you need to say, you’ll know it. I don’t think you should wait. I think you should speak now. Taylor Swift (1989- )