Conventions: Whether conventions or conferences, I found these to be an invaluable resource for meeting people. (In fact, that’s how I met Deborah!) At one panel about plotting techniques, one person from the audience asked how one might go about finding a critique group. One of the panelists said to look around the audience – the people going to the same panels you are probably have the same needs. After the panel was over I got together with two other people from the audience and formed my first crit group. That was three years ago, and I’m still swapping stories with one of them.
Classes and workshops: If there are classes in your area, that’s another way to get an insta-community. You can also apply to a variety of workshops that are available. Or, many writers offer online classes with a video component, either through YouTube or Google Hangouts. A digital class community still counts!
Industry groups: If you’re publishing science fiction, fantasy, or horror, trade groups like SFWA (the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, sort of the national guild, with online forums for discussion) and community groups like Codex (an online community full of support and advice) are great ways to meet people. If you’re interested in pure horror, there’s also HWA (the Horror Writers of America.) For all, you need to qualify to join.
If you’re publishing romance, the industry group RWA (Romance Writers of America) is massive and allows anyone to join, and has local events in many places.
Other sub-genres have their own groups. Just look online!
Local meet-ups: Meetup.com is a great way to find local writing meet-ups. My area has a number of “Shut up and Write” meet-ups, and guess what happens there.
Online critique forums: You can trade work with other writers on groups like Critique Circle, Critters, and more.
I hope one or more of these options work for you! I find my writing support groups (yes, I have several!) to be incredibly helpful, both in improving my writing and in improving my state of mind. Good luck, and you can do it!
Effie Seiberg is a fantasy and science fiction writer. Her stories can be found in the “Women Destroy Science Fiction!” special edition of Lightspeed Magazine, Galaxy’s Edge, Analog, Fireside Fiction, and PodCastle, amongst others. She is a graduate of Taos Toolbox 2013, a member of SFWA and Codex, and a reader at Tor.com.
Barb Caffrey: Here’s one more additional resource that helped me, back in the day…it’s Forward Motion Writer’s Group (or fmwriters.com, I think — might be .org). Lazette Gifford runs the site now, but it was started by Holly Lisle. It’s a group by writers, for writers, and they talk about all sorts of writerly-related things, including things that get in the way of writing.
Barb Caffrey has written three novels, An Elfy On The Loose (2014), A Little Elfy in Big Trouble (2015), and Changing Faces (forthcoming), and is the co-writer of the Adventures of Joey Maverick series (with late husband Michael B. Caffrey) Previous stories and poems have appeared in Stars Of Darkover, First Contact Café, How Beer Saved The World, Bearing North, and Bedlam’s Edge (with Michael B. Caffrey).