Writers Need Writers–Sometimes

December 23, 2013

Writing is a solitary activity, but writing involves being social too. You get to decide how much social interaction you want by how many writer’s conferences you go to, how many writing classes you attend, whether or not you join a writers group, and which networking opportunities you accept or decline.

  • Writers conferences typically offer successful writers as speakers. You get to select which sessions you want to attend, depending on subject matter; speaker’s reputation, fame, or following; and any other criteria you deem important. Often the speaker shares how he or she got published. The sessions are meant to encourage you to keep writing because the same thing could happen to you. Realistically, however, the chances of that occurring are minimal and both speaker and audience realize that. However, it’s still fun to go to writers conferences, meet other writers, and pick up a nugget or two of helpful insights along the way.
  • Writing classes can range from one night to a series of nights, depending on subject matter and instructor. Many writers teach to supplement writing income and most writing classes are valuable on some level. Some instructors lecture, others spend the majority of time having students write and share what they wrote, and others combine both lecture and writing exercises. I’ve done all three and find value in each one, depending on the topic.
  • Writers groups create their own rules regarding just about everything. I was a member of the Minneapolis Writers Workshop that was established in 1937 and has met ever since. They meet every Wednesday evening for two hours. The first Wednesday of the month is open read (anyone can read), on the other nights members sign up for one of the reading slots. I’ve belonged to other writers groups as well. One met every Friday afternoon. Membership was limited to five people, and if you didn’t bring something to read, you had to bring food for everyone (which worked to keep everyone writing). When you do join a writers group, make sure it’s working for you and you’re working for it. Since writers groups are usually volunteer, you’ll probably get involved at some point. That’s great if it’s helping your writing. If it’s keeping you from writing, not so much!
  • Writers should know there are two types of networking: (1) Getting to know as many people as possible in order to connect with those who can help your career, and (2) Being open to new connections/relationships if you can help the other person or if you’re willing to ask the other person to help you. I highly recommend you focus on the second type of networking because you’ll feel more free to ask questions, to offer your expertise, and to respect and be respected. The first type of networking tends to look for ways to use people to help you get ahead. The second type of networking tends to build relationships and connections while you stay in control of the time and effort you spend in the networking process.

Yes, writing is a solitary activity, but writers need writers–sometimes.

Happy writing!




Now is the Time to Start Thinking about Next Year

December 4, 2013

I realize we’re between Thanksgiving and Christmas, but with the holidays so close together this year, the new year will be upon us before we’re ready–unless we start giving next year some thought now.

Here are some things to consider as you plan your writing for 2014.

  • Most aspiring (or, if you prefer the term freelance, that’s fine too) writers have at least one other source of income. It could be a spouse, significant other, pension, or even a job, but they have something besides writing that helps pay the bills.
  • It takes skill, time, perseverance, flexibility–and a lot of patience–to build a successful writing career. Besides all those qualities, you also need to be good at marketing because you’re always trying to sell your writing. It could be an article idea, a non-fiction book idea, a short story, a novel, etc. Whatever path you want your writing career to take, it’s good to remember you’re selling something of value and all you need is one customer to buy that particular offering.
  • Luck does play a part in your success. You’ll never have control over everything in life, so don’t sit back and wait for success to come to you. In other words, set some writing career goals for 2014, do your best to achieve those goals, and be aware you can’t control everything that happens.
  • Writing is a solitary activity. If you like to be alone, you’re probably content to write the day away. But what can you do if you’re a social person? I recommend you schedule some people contact. It could be having lunch with a friend, joining (or creating) a writers group that meets periodically, taking a class, dating your spouse, or doing anything else that will get you connected with people who may not be calling you because they don’t want to interrupt your writing.
  • Take care of yourself (and your relationships). If you do, you’ll be amazed at how much it will help your writing because you get more ideas, new insights, fresh inspiration, and energy to keep writing with your life full and healthy on so many levels.

These five tips are enough to get you thinking about how you’ll hit the ground running regarding your writing in 2014.

Happy writing!