Build your writing community.
How do you connect with a community of writers?
For me, connecting with writers is tremendously important. Writing and publishing is a complicated process. There was so much that I didn’t know and even more that I didn’t know that I didn’t know. I am so grateful for the teachers, mentors, and friends I have met along the way who have guided and supported me.
When I first started out, I searched for a local writing group. Google led me to MeetUp and I was thrilled to discover a group near the town I live in. I recall attending an event and quickly realizing it wasn’t what I was looking for. The room was filled with experienced writers but the group was focused solely on the self-publishing process and marketing strategies. I had not finished my first novel. I was looking for a group that would support and advise me in the writing process. Publishing would come later.
I spied a woman across the room who appeared to be searching for a discrete exit strategy. There was none. I looked. She must have noticed me too. After the meeting she introduced herself. That led to coffee and a connection that helped me finish my novel. She encouraged me to explore the courses at Hugo House where I have since had the chance to learn from some amazing writers. Somewhere along the way, I discovered Shut Up and Write. I decided that if a group did not exist, it was time for me to step up and take the lead. My friend joined me as we took a leap of faith and started a group. We’ve been meeting for over two years every Saturday morning. I am weekly amazed at how the simple act of checking in and being accountable results in words on the page. Some of us attended one of the Writing Day Workshops. It was a great way to learn from agents about the publishing options and processes. More importantly we got feedback on our query letters and pitches. All of those things led me to a critique group that has been instrumental in improving my skills and finding my voice.
Then I tackled the big hill – social media. I kept hearing in classes about the importance of a social media platform. I gravitated to writers and readers on Twitter and found such amazing support and mentoring from the #WritingCommunity. I found a small group of women writing in different genres and at different points on the journey. They have come to hold a special place in my heart. We have shared celebrations and disappointments. We have consoled, advised, mentored, and supported each other. They pushed me to explore Instagram, and Pinterest and then they held my hand while I tried to figure out how to create a story and use a hashtag. On every platform—Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest—I have connected with amazing people. While social media has a reputation for the negative, I have found two things to be true: Writers and readers are positive, open and encouraging generally. If I am always positive, I will attract positive people.
Last, but definitely not least, I was fortunate to discover an organization devoted to my genre, the Women’s Fiction Writers Association. This group is simply amazing. Conferences, retreats, daily writing groups, mentorships, webinars, pitch events, and so much more. This group has such a wealth of experience and knowledge. They are welcoming and generous. If you are not a women’s fiction writer, you might see if your genre has an association.
Writing can feel like a solitary and isolating activity. It does not have to be. Classes, conferences, associations, critique partners, social media, and writing groups are how I connect. How do you connect with your writing community?