Writers Need Writers–Sometimes

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!




3 Responses to Writers Need Writers–Sometimes

  1. Great post! I’ve experienced the joy of writerly networking this past year in two ways: joining a memoir writers group through meet-up, and contacting a favorite author of mine to consult on my manuscript (I had to pay her, but I got great feedback, and I got to talk to her on the phone twice). Both activities have been really helpful in motivating me and keeping my project going.

    • Good for you in joining a writers group and in finding someone who gave you good, useful feedback. You get to be the final judge on what to do with any feedback you get because it’s normal for different people to see things differently.

      I’ll bet we could take a poll asking fifty people to rate Stephen King and J. K. Rowling and find those polled don’t share the same opinion of these authors’ writings. The important thing is you keep writing because only you can say what you have to say and your readers await you!

      • I think you’re right! To continue with your popular writers’ example, a few years back I read the Twilight series because all my high school students were reading it, and I though Stephanie Myers’s writing was pretty poor (even if the story was interesting). I definitely have not agreed with all the feedback I’ve gotten, but it has been good for helping me keep an audience of diverse readers in mind.

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