People join writers’ groups for various reasons: to network, to learn what software and tools are available, to look for opportunities, and to learn how to build their portfolios. The opportunities in this post skew toward technical writing as it relates to the author’s experiences.
Why join a writers’ group?
Writers just starting out in their careers may join a writers’ group to network with other writers. Doing so opens them up to learning about job opportunities, as well as ways to volunteer or collaborate in their area of expertise. It’s great to build your portfolio before landing your first big writing job or to exhibit a wider range of writing styles. If the group meets in person, and you’re in a larger city, the locations may vary from meeting to meeting. If you’re job searching, don’t skip meetings in other parts of town! You never know when you may garner an interview in that area, and familiarity with it will help reduce stress on interview day. Plus, you’ll learn about your potential daily commute, assuming you aren’t working remotely.
The benefits of joining a professional networking group include:
- Learning the skillsets of other writers in your area of interest
- Getting feedback when you have a bit of writer’s block or something just doesn’t look right
- Learning about new software and whether the update is worth it
- Understanding how other writers approach problems. (This is particularly helpful if you’ve landed a role as the “lone writer” in your organization or department. You’ll feel less alone and get experienced advice on whether to make the leap from Word to MadCap Flare or another authoring tool.)
Many of these groups use job boards where other writers share their stories about how they transitioned into or out of technical writing.
Opportunities for writers to expand their portfolio include: Google’s Season of Docs (technical writing), NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), and contributing to open-source projects that need documentation on GitHub.
Groups in Slack
- Write The Docs – This 10,000+ member group focuses on Docs As Code and technical writing. The group includes members who are writers, managers, tech support, and developers.
- MadCap Flare Users Group – Run by MadCap Software, this group requires an invitation to join. It is a good place to ask questions when learning Flare, Capture, or Central and to find out the latest MadCap news. Read about other writers’ experiences with the latest updates to help you decide to update your software.
- A11y – a11y is a widely used abbreviation for accessibility. This group isn’t focused on writing but geared towards individuals who work with accessibility. It’s a great resource for learning more about accessibility.
- Code & Supply – This workspace is international and focuses on developers. This incredible resource is perfect for those in the world of software or API documentation.
Other notable groups
- Interaction Design Foundation is a place to learn more about user experience and usability, which is becoming more important across different writing fields.
- International Association of Business Communicators is a professional organization for writers interested in business writing and marketing.
- The Society for Technical Communication, more widely known as STC, is a professional networking group hosting an annual conference. You’ll also find special interest groups (SIGs) and a professional magazine and journal.
Joining a writing group, professionally or for fun, can expand your opportunities and knowledge in ways you may not realize until you do it. In addition to what I’ve mentioned above, check out online and in-person writing groups on websites such as Meetup.com and EventBrite. You are sure to find at least one that is a great fit for your needs.
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