I originally wrote this post for my Coach’s Corner Column over at Speculative Chic. It’s a fantastic blog covering all things Speculative!
Having a community of writers around you is great for giving and receiving critiques, but it can be so much more. I couldn’t persist in this crazy business of writing if it weren’t for my writing friends, so I’d like to share with you some of the ways in which they have helped me find the joy in writing.
We support each other. At any given time, we know we have someone to commiserate with us when we get rejected, or are struggling to write. We understand the process and the business of writing. We can share in the good times too: celebrating the book contract, story sale, and even the completion of a manuscript. When one of us is giving a public reading nearby, the rest of us do our best to be there. We share resources on markets and contests, as well as other events like readings and workshops others might be interested in or benefit from.
Some of my most favorite times are our writing retreats. Every couple of months, one of us will invite everyone over for a weekend of writing. It is a come-and-go-as-necessary event, given that not everyone can give up an entire weekend. It usually starts Friday at dinner time and lasts until about 10:00 pm; Saturday from 9:00 am – 10:00 pm, and Sunday from 9:00 am – 4:00 pm. Our time is spent writing. In theory, we’re supposed to be quiet, but sometimes a sword-fight breaks out. Sometimes a research question is asked and answered, a brilliant line or typo is shared. We usually go for lunch and dinner to a local pub or diner. That’s where we catch up on what everyone is working on that weekend, and encouraging each other’s progress. Even though we aren’t spending the entire time in solitude or silence, these weekends are incredibly productive for everyone. I suspect it precisely becausewe are not in absolute solitude or silence. Hearing everyone tapping away at their keyboards is great motivation. They’re all writing, so I should be writing too. We share word counts, so we want to have a good one. The brief moments of chatter aren’t enough of a distraction to make you forget what you were writing, or even to really stop while you’re talking or listening. And there’s always someone to bounce ideas off of and have instant solutions to problems so that we don’t have to spend hours mulling and debating and researching; but we can get back to the writing. Every now and then, we stop for a martini, and pretend to be very serious authors (some of us succeed more than others).
We’ve enjoyed these writing weekends so much that thanks to David J. Fortier, we’ve started gathering at a cafe and writing one evening a week. Currently, it’s every Monday. These evenings are productive. They also motivate us to write regularly the rest of the week, to keep the momentum going.
Do you have a group of writing friends around you? People you can commiserate with, cheer for, support? What about getting together to write? If you don’t, where can you meet other writers?
It can be difficult to meet other writers. We tend to be solitary creatures. I met my friends at local conventions and through other friends. It took a while before we became what we are today, so be patient and persistent. It is worth it. You and your writing will be all the better for it.