–Sondi Warner, Writer/Blogger for Wrought Iron Reads
Did you get the memo? Writers are supposed to be introverts, and writing is something secret you do behind closed doors. It’s loner work, so don’t bother telling your friends about it—especially if your friends are writers, too. ‘Cause, everyone else who does what you do is competition. Writers are a brooding, surly, rude lot who wouldn’t dare help a peer or *yikes* a novice.
And, if you’re the writer giggling at how silly that sounds, congratulations! You already know the introverted/lone wolf/ultra-competitive writer is a rare monster. The vast majority of us aren’t anything like that.
Here’s the thing. Writing is lonely work. It’s hours spent toiling over notes, months to years shaping those notes into a story, and if you’re planning on publishing, you’re signing up for many more thankless eons talking about that book you love.
However, being a writer isn’t a vocation spent forever tucked away in the rugged wilderness by yourself. (Sorry, Thoreau.) Many of us are introverts, but writers need people as much as, if not more than, any other creatives.
What’s the mistake nearly every writer makes at one point or another? Trying to rough it alone.
James Chartrand, from the super dope site MenWithPens.ca, gave the secrets to “Why some people make money writing and others never will,” and he had this to say:
“Very few pro writers achieved their levels of success by going at it alone. The greatest authors of history exchanged drafts and shared their work with their inner circle. Even the secretive writers could rely on a fraternity of other writers to swap ideas, or even just beers.”
“Pro writers have mentors. Period. To achieve your writing goals, you need someone who has already trodden the long road to pro-writing success.”
Mr. Chartrand had plenty more to say on the subject, so take a minute to hit the link above and read for yourself when you’re done here.
Being a part of a community of your peers and having a mentor are invaluable assets that can mean the difference between running into every obstacle and giving up or getting a heads up on potential pitfalls before you encounter them and having the faith to keep going. Writing is hard enough. You need teammates and coaches to help you execute these plays.
But if you’re like me, then getting past the “friendly” phase to making real friends in the biz can seem *ahem* tedious. Not to mention, busy schedules aren’t necessarily conducive to an open social calendar. Yet, this is one puzzle piece that makes the big picture come together in the writer life. It’s the step you can’t skip.
So, you should start by figuring out exactly where said community of writers can be found. I’ve created a handy cheat sheet for you. It helped me and *gasp* I’m helping you. (Told you writers are nice.)
But before we start! Do you have time to waste? Neither do others. The first rule of building an inner circle is keeping things polite and professional. As you seek out and join these networks, remember that writers love talking about writing almost as much as they love talking about what they’re writing. Be prepared to give-and-take because building a circle isn’t about becoming the center of the universe. It’s about becoming a part of the revolution. Pun intended.
5 Popular Forums for Writers
I have limited experience with using writer forums, but for the fastest, least complicated way of linking up with writers like you, forums may be the best way to go. Sign up, post your question or comment and wait for the responses to roll in. Scroll the feeds to find others who share your writer life pain, and you might just find a few friends for life. There are many popular sites. Here are 5 to get you started.
- http://www.writersdigest.com/forum/ – A popular site for writers of all breeds
- http://absolutewrite.com/forums/activity.php – Touted as one of the most popular message boards
- http://www.writersbeat.com/ – Dedicated to the discussion of all topics related to the art of writing
- http://www.likesbooks.com/boards/index.php – For Romance Writers
- http://www.sffworld.com/forum/ – For Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Horror Writers
5 Facebook Groups to Fall in Love With
There’s no greater box of chocolates than the smorgasbord of Facebook groups for writers. A search might yield you communities alive with activity or ones that are long dead and just decaying away in Forgotten Land. Or, you might discover, like I did, that most of these groups are thinly veiled spam funnels for an endless stream of “Buy My Book!” “One-Click Now!” “Free with Amazon Prime!”
If that doesn’t sound like your idea of a good time, then high-five. Me, neither. The best groups for writers are the ones that encourage sharing of ideas and imparting of inspiration with plenty of space to rant when necessary. You want the group to be well-moderated because networking around nudey pics and the random flotsam of viral videos is a crapshoot. I’ve personally had luck with some of these:
Books Go Social Authors’ Group is an amazingly diverse group of writers, and the best thing about this Facebook group is how much information you can glean simply by checking in and scrolling through a few threads. The writers here are generous with their questions and answers. There’s no experience bar to leap or exceed. You’ll be rubbing elbows with published and aspiring authors alike. Bonus: This is an off-shoot of the popular Books Go Social program, which provides valuable promotions services for a nominal fee, but the group is free. Love that price!
The Writing Delivery Center is moderated by author and writing coach, Je Tuan Jones, The Message Midwife. With a tidy group membership of 105, enjoy the privacy and talk anything writerly. Posts run the gamut from questions about your weekly writing goals to articles from a diverse community of bloggers. But what elevates this group is the hands on touch of a dedicated coach who offers more in-depth services at affordable rates. Share your damage, your glory, your trials and your triumphs as a woman and a writer. (Unfortunately, boys, this one is for ladies only.)
The Write Life Community is a group I recently joined, but the benefits are already blazing! This is the best group for posting your questions and getting quick answers. The more you interact, the better chances you have of making solid connections and filling your circle with supportive professionals. The rules state no self-promo, so you don’t have to worry about wading through “Buy Me!” pleas (and neither should you post any.) As the moderator states: “This is a place for writers to connect, so we can all help each other earn!”
Indie Writers Unite! is touted as the place “for indie writers to share information, learn from each other, get to know each other, etc.” This is another group where promos are not allowed in the group at large, but they ARE permitted in moderated threads in case you need to get your book out there. I’m still waiting to get accepted into this group, but from the list of members I see a few popular names and many unknowns, which is a healthy indication this is a group populated by experts and novices alike. Get in there and get to meeting people.
Writers etc. has the lovely distinction of linking writers and Hollywood in the same sentence in their description. While I have absolutely no experience with this group whatsoever, a cursory examination of the rules reveals it may be a gem. See for yourself: “Our criteria for joining is two-fold. 1. You must be a writer or aspiring writer and 2) Each member agrees to not promote their books or self-promote other issues. We share challenges, discuss the craft of writing and support one another’s efforts.”
Online Social Networks Specifically for Writers
Very many authors flock to LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat to build their readerships and author platforms, which you should do. But you might try joining some social networks that cater specifically to writers like you in order to find like-minded individuals to make a part of your inner circle.
I’ve pulled together what I could find, and I encourage you to keep looking for others. Don’t spread yourself thin. If one doesn’t work for you, try another, but try not to have too many social spheres rotating at once. It can be dizzying.
Writer’s Network: If poetry is your pleasure, then you might consider Writer’s Network. As the name implies, this site is a social network for writers—mostly poets, but prose is welcome—and you can get reviews of the writing you post. More importantly, you can interact with others like you in the forums. This modest community has been around since 2004 and may be lagging in popularity. You might consider that a bad thing…until you realize that the smaller member size means no more scrolling through endless lists of forgettable faces and names. This intimate population makes for less need for pretense. What’s not to love about that?
Book-In-A-Week: Your novel needs to be written, and this is the community that will motivate you to get it done. For a super tiny fee of $3 via PayPal, you can join the club and meet weekly writing goals with prize incentives. You can also ask for personal critiques from other members. This is a BRILLIANT service if you’ve been struggling to get your book to completion AND if you’re looking to get to know other authors.
Equipped with these groups, forums and writerly social networks, there’s no excuse for being the lone writer, and you can get started being the paid writer. Watch how quickly you grow and hone the craft with friends who care as much about words as you. And, if this list was helpful, please do share. Others need it to. Be that nice writer.
Tell me your networking tips by Tweeting me @WIRUniverse, #NiceWritersHelp.