I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to meet and/or talk with a handful of highly successful authors and most of them have this one thing in common: they are an active member of a writer’s group. I think that as newbies aspiring writers often think that authors are reclusive anti-social creative literary mavericks. While that may be true at times of inspiration, most authors have a broad network of support. Just read the acknowledgements portions of some of your favorite books and you’ll notice that the authors have pages upon pages of people to express gratitude towards for making that book possible. Why should any of us be any different? Learn from the best and make an effort to connect.
Here are 3 reasons why I think you should connect with a local writer’s group in your community if you haven’t already.
1. Unbiased Critique: While sharing your writing efforts with Pookie and them may give you a nice ego boost, it won’t give you the honest critique you need. Your family and friends care about you and this can color their assessment of your efforts. Chances are they know exactly how much your writing means to you, and are hesitant to criticize your efforts because they don’t want to discourage you. A writing group of your literary peers will have no problem telling you that your book about toenail jam may have limited marketing opportunities.
2.Networking Opportunities: When you join a writer’s group you’ll have the opportunity to meet like-minded individuals. You’ll meet people who take the craft of writing seriously. You’ll also likely meet published authors and have to opportunity to pick their brains regarding the business aspects of professional writing. Not only that, most organizers of writer’s groups keep their fingers on the pulse of the industry and share information regarding upcoming literary events and conferences.
3.Inspiration and Encouragement: Being a writer is far from glamorous most of the time. And for every one writer that ‘makes it’ there are hundreds more whose work may never see the light of day. Sorry to be a downer, but it’s true. Being a part of a writer’s group can give you the encouragement you need to never stop writing. No matter what. Because for true writer’s, this whole thing is a calling. Just like believers go to church to keep on keeping on in their walk of faith, writers get together to encourage each other not to give up. Listening to other people talk about their agents and contract negotiations will help you remember that it is possible, and it does happen for some people, so it can happen for you.
But Faith, how do I find a writer’s group to join? I’m glad you asked. There are several ways to skin a cat. I was a part of a remarkable group in Dallas called The Writer’s Block Inc., which I discovered through word of mouth. Tell people you are looking for a writing group and you’d be surprised what may happen. Also, there is Google of course. Type in ‘writing groups’ or ‘writing critique sessions’ plus your zip code and explore the many options that come up. Lastly, there is my favorite method of connecting whenever I move to a new area: MeetUp.com. This site is great for networking for any reason, but it can also help you locate a writing group specific to your needs. Want to be a part of a fantasy fiction group? Memoirs your thing? Children’s books anyone? They’ve probably got it, and if they don’t you can easily start a group yourself. Just go to MeetUp.com, type in your area of interest and zip code, then you are good to go.
It takes a village people, so go find yours!
P.S. I did not mention on-line writing groups because I prefer face to face interaction, but if that’s what floats your boat, by all means go for it.
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