Chicago-Based Organizations Help Writers Earn More "Green" on the Literary Scene

Jennifer Brown Banks

"There is strength in numbers."

Writing is said to be a solitary profession.

Most of us work independently, behind closed doors in quiet seclusion. For us, there are no “water-cooler conversations.” There’s no assistance provided by a co-worker when we have questions or encounter obstacles. There's no on-site tech guy. There are no bosses looking directly over our shoulders to make sure that objectives are being met.

We ride alone.

Which in my opinion is one of the biggest rewards of being a writer. We have the latitude to navigate our own course; share our own thoughts; enjoy autonomy and peace. To avoid daily drama and office politics.

But, for some writers this lifestyle also presents challenges. There are individuals who actually prefer the interaction of working in a team-like, in person atmosphere. Working alone makes them feel isolated, disconnected and unsupported.

Perhaps that’s even you.


If writers are truly “creative” we can find support in many ways. For instance, some writers form alliances with others through establishing accountability partners and writing buddies; whereby they check in with each other on a weekly basis. Others opt to join formal organizations devoted to their genre. Some of these groups are conducted on line and others meet in person. I’ll share some of these resources today.


First, for the unenlightened let’s examine just what a tribe is. My story shares this quote by Seth Godin:’ A tribe is a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea. For millions of years, human beings have been part of one tribe or another. A group needs only two things to be a tribe: a shared interest and a way to communicate.”

Jeff Goins further states: “ A tribe isn’t a fan club. It’s a group of people who care about something. And we all belong to a few of those, don’t we?”


“There is strength in numbers.” I admit, that even though I’ve been a professional scribe for many years, the idea of finding my tribe did not resonate until much later in my career. Though I did recognize the need to attend periodic workshops and conferences in my area for writers. What I have found in the evolving years is that being a member of a writing tribe affords many benefits:

  • It enables writers to network and garner valuable information on career opportunities, contests, conferences and industry-related news.
  • It helps us to hone our craft and increase our cash.
  • It helps us to feel connected, empowered and supported.
  • It allows us work on collaborative projects together where we are able to combine different skill sets for optimal results.


For more than a decade, my writing career has been enriched by the many different creative groups in which I have participated. I believe the same would hold true for you. Since I am blessed to write in multiple genres, I currently belong to several tribes.

  • I am a member (and the organizing founder) of a community-based poetry group.
  • I belong to a group of Black bloggers in the Midwest.
  • I participate in a writers’ group in my city for local writers of varying levels and genres.
  • I am also an active member of an even larger community as an online professional blogger (for the last 11 years).

Basically, from my experience, groups are divided into 3 main categories:

1. GROUPS ORGANIZED BY GENRE OR INTEREST (for example, Romance writers of America, Humor Writers Association)

2. GROUPS ORGANIZED BY LOCATION (Chicago Writers Association, Highland Park Poetry)

3. GROUPS ORGANIZED BY LEVEL OR EXPERIENCE ( associate, professional, etc.) Like those found on


According to “When you think of renowned literary cities, places like Paris at the turn of the 20th Century or Joyce’s Dublin most likely spring to mind. However, it should be noted that Chicago has also produced some of the world’s most esteemed novelists, short story writers, poets, and journalists. The city’s fast-pace life and its notorious politics have served as inspiration for some writers to author harsh criticisms against it while others have penned anthems celebrating its imperfections to place it among the other great cities of the world.”

Throughout history, Chicago has played a vital role in enriching the literary landscape; producing great works from writers of varying genres, styles of expression, racial identities and backgrounds. Writers such as Gwendolyn Brooks, Edgar Rice Burroughs and Scott Turow--to name a few.


Unfortunately, too often people’s perception and association of Chicago is unbalanced. Their scope is limited to the rampant violence, good pizza, corrupt politics or beautiful architecture. But, we are as diverse as the people who populate the streets here. We have many things of which to hold our heads high.

As a matter of reference, Chicago has one of the few museums dedicated to writers solely. It shares in its mission statement: “Our mission is to celebrate the enduring influence of American writers on our history, identity, culture, and daily lives."

When it comes to writing I like to think “we wrote the book!”


If you are a Chicago-based writer or have an interest in Chicago culture, these groups are valuable resources. They can assist in increasing your visibility, your knowledge base and your profitability as a writer.


Chicagoland writers was initially established in 2003 and is a federally registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. They span many genres, styles and levels of experience. Their stated purpose is to “share information, experiences, and encouragement with those of us for whom written expression is an integral part of life.” This group provides networking events; conferences and educational workshops. They also produce a yearly anthology featuring selected works of its members.

Randy Richardson currently serves as the group’s president.


Black Bloggers Chicago is an organization dedicated to supporting, educating and connecting Chicago Content Creators and Bloggers of Color. This organization is comprised of bloggers that span many topics, interests, themes and approaches. From beauty bloggers, to review bloggers, to video bloggers. BBOC seeks to amplify the collective voices of Black bloggers and enable its members to tell their own unique stories from their own viewpoint.


The members here represent a broad range of writing specialties and serve large corporations, small businesses, and not-for-profit organizations not only throughout Chicagoland but nationally.

IWOC provides networking events; job leads; an informative blog; and more. Professional membership is $95.00 a year. They also offer other membership levels as well.

Writing is fast becoming one of the most popular ways to earn an extra income from home.

If you seek guidance, these Chicago organizations are a great place to start.

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Veteran freelance writer, award-winning blogger, thought leader, herbal tea enthusiast. My mission is to entertain, engage and inform readers with articles that are interesting, enriching and diverse.

Chicago, IL

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