(Heavily edited in a sincere attempt to reduce subjectivity / instigation of unwieldy discussion or chattiness:) As a novice writer of poetry, who lives with folks who smile and nod with the sound of crickets chirping in the background when I tell them I have written yet another poem, I am acutely aware that I am in great need of a supportive group or community who can, among other things, read my work and give me constructive or even destructive feedback. Because I live in a rurally isolated location, where support groups for writers is not a “thing,” I have been casting about online searching for a supportive community to fill this need.

AS seeking advice on the editing process is listed as an appropriate type of question, may I ask, what is the most productive approach for integrating into a remote (online) poetry writing community, in such a way that produces growth within your personal creative process and set of skills, toward the goal of writing “good” poetry?

(If this question is still too chat-oriented, I understand. I am finding it difficult to ask in the perfect way: maybe it is just not the right type of question... ???)


2 Answers 2


I'm going to lean in the opposite direction of your question.

... a remote (online) poetry writing community, ... that produces growth within your personal creative process ...

I see 2 separate desires which are somewhat in opposition: a community, and personal growth.

Community is external, so you won't have much control over the quality of the group or it's ability to appreciate or encourage you. Communities are funny things. As social animals we need to reach out to others. Unfortunately that is not always the best thing for an artist/writer's personal growth. Being in a group tends to create a dynamic where most people within the group act the same and agree, just for the sake of being part of the group. Even here on WritingSE, it's both fun and a distraction that your participation is "scored" by the website. It is what it is, but participating here is not writing our own works. Most of us probably use it as an antidote to burn out, writer's block, boredom, and loneliness – also the desire to participate in making the world (the world of a few other writers) a better place.

Now about your personal growth as a writer. This is, frankly, more directly important to your craft. You must write to get better at writing. You must curate your own writing, edit and re-write your own works, and experiment in how they are published. That probably means a website (wordpress.com is free, but there are others). Most of all, you must write for yourself, without input or approval from others. You must find your own unique voice, and discover how to communicate a range of ideas and emotions through that one and only voice that you have. You must chart your own course into the unknown. The best a community can offer is a generic way to make your writing more conformist, to "normalize" you through the law of averages. This is not growth, and it is not personal.

It is a catch-22. You need both, but I am suggesting one is far more important to you as an artist. One is your pure creation, it is the only path to personal growth. Community can be good too, it will fulfill other needs, but rarely will it lead to personal growth. Even if you find a good community, you should not "put all the eggs in that one basket".

enter image description here

Have you ever heard the old saying that if you want to find a relationship you should just work on making yourself happy and the relationship will find you? Yeah, that's not quite my advice, but there is something constructive in that idea: prioritize your personal growth – it's the one that is under your control, and it's not subject to the approval of strangers. Don't put too much of yourself into a community. To be honest, you will need that community (or several) to take a break from your personal growth, to share and communicate in the community without expectations that it will serve your art, because it probably won't. Communities and friendships can be a source of inspiration and learning – even healing – the best way to learn is to help others work through problems that are not personal to you. But communities can go the other way too, they can be petty and conformist, with arbitrary rules that favor the favorites, and that can be a bitter pill if you are a person who communicates a little differently, or you are too generous with your time and attention. Communities can become habit, a place we go to ignore our work and problems (and feel we are still achieving a writing goal, even if it isn't our writing goal.

TL;DR – there may or may not be a perfect community out there that suits your needs, if only for a short while. But you'll still need to work on your personal curated space where you can present ideas and words and pictures exclusively to please your own sensibilities. This personal growth space will need every bit as much of attention and goodwill that you would bring to a community, with the added benefit that you set the standards and you are the only ego that needs to be served. Your personal space will need to be secure, before you can honestly give and take from a community without it warping you into their version of what you should be writing.


@wetcircuit has some really good points that you should consider. I'm going to attempt to answer your question more directly, however. I'm going to use Scribophile as my example but I believe other sites work similarly. Scribophile has forums, where you can ask question but, in some ways more importantly, you can just read other people's questions and answers. I would do that before asking any questions of your own. On the critiquing part of the site, you must do critiques (and gain karma points) before you can post your own work to be reviewed. Before you do any critiquing, read a lot of the work posted and read the critiques that are already there. This will give you an idea of the types of things that people are looking for in feedback. You may see examples of how not to do things, where the feedback is not helpful. This is also good to know so you can try to avoid pitfalls. Be polite, assume everyone is at least trying to be useful, and have fun.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.