No City, No Problem: 10 Ways to Get Involved From the Suburbs
I love the city. I love the diverse architecture. I love that everything is within walking distance. I love that businesses are open late. Most of all I love the vibrant writing communities that can be found in most large cities, including Minneapolis. Unfortunately for me, I don’t live in the city. I have lived in cities before and occasionally small towns, but for most of my life I’ve lived in suburbs, as I do now. Here are my top ten ways to get involved in a writing community while living in the suburbs (or maybe even the country, gasp!):
- Go to the library. Pick up every book on writing and craft that you can find and sit down at a table. When someone complains about you hogging all the writing books, you’ll know you’ve found a fellow writer.
- Go to your local park. Stand on a bench or picnic table. Read some of your favorite pieces aloud. The people not throwing things are fellow writers.
- Go to your local coffee shop. There aren’t many open mic nights, readings, or writing events outside the city but that doesn’t mean there can’t be. Talk with local business owners and see if they would be willing to sponsor an event like this. If push comes to shove you can always head back to the library where there are usually public meeting rooms to rent for little or no money.
- Go to your local newspaper office, or just email them, and advertise. You can take out a personal ad, put a writers’ group in the classifieds, or submit a letter to the editor about the appalling lack of a writing community in your town.
- Go door to door, preferably with a cute child to ring the bell. Offer your neighbors cookies if they’ll come discuss writing with you for half an hour.
- Go back to school. You might not live near a big university, but what about a community college? You might even try emailing the high school English teacher. Wouldn’t her students benefit from a public reading, or a weekly workshop, or both? She might even be willing to offer extra credit.
- Go to a bookstore. This is mostly because bookstores are awesome. Also because if you’re lucky enough to have a brick and mortar store in your town that is entirely devoted to books you should support it. Standing at the door and asking every person who enters if they’re a writer can only help the business.
- Go to your contact list. If there aren’t other writers in your area then you’ll just have to start converting them. If none of the above works, you may need to resort to these last ditch efforts:
- Go to your computer and sign up for an online writing class. A class is a great way to find immediate involvement with other writers. The structured environment means there is a readymade topic of discussion. Online classes have the added advantage that you can’t sit in the back of the class. Everyone participates. At the same time there’s no public speaking involved.
- Go into the city. Seriously. It’s not as scary as you think, especially if you can avoid rush hour traffic. You may not want to do it daily, but for special occasions it’s worth it. If you make the effort to attend a reading, a class, or a special event you might even find it fun.
Sally M. Reynolds is a marketing and communications intern at The Loft Literary Center. She is a writer, a dancer, and an avid reviewer of life. You can follow her on Twitter: @SallyMReynolds