This is a case of privilege: I grew up with parents who write (even if they are journalists and collectively despair of my structure), I had a group of friends in high school who started a writing group, most of the friends I made online became friends in the context of writing or some form of creative output (did you know: for two years I helped run and moderate an art critique and virtual-money pricing thread). I joined the Victoria Writers’ Society soon after I got here, and I I’ve been to Meetups about writing and PEAVI meetings and a conference about writing and book launches and poetry readings. When I wanted to find people who were also into writing, I was in a town that had lots of other people with similar interests, and I had a framework such that I had no problems seeking them out.
So when I encounter people who have no one to talk writing with, I am faintly befuddled and tend to either adopt them or refer them to the Internet, depending on my mood and their familiarity with technology.
Writing is not a solitary pursuit. I am not convinced it has ever widely been a solitary pursuit. The Bronte sisters had each other to talk to, Jane Austen had family to read her works to, Kerouac had the entire Beat movement.
Having people to talk to about writing helps refine ideas and thoughts about it. Brainstorming tends to be more productive if someone else is there to ask questions or point out when something is really obviously quite illogical. Having people to talk to about writing means having people who’ll remind you that yes, this is something you like spending your free time doing, why haven’t you written a word in a week? Having people to talk to about writing means that, when you’ve finished a piece for a contest with a deadline, you can have two people whose opinions about writing you trust read it in an afternoon.
For me, the internet is how I’ve found these people. Well, the internet, and people I still know from high school and university. But I’m still in touch with them over the internet, and that’s where we talk about writing. I’ve found people on Tumblr and on an anime site I joined when I was 14, and through friends of these people. Others have found communities on Absolutewrite or Deviantart or Meetups or Critiquecircle or Fictionpress or Wattpad or any of a dozen others. If you’re looking for a community, it can be worth checking out anything you can find to locate the people you’ll click with.
I’ve found it really worthwhile.