In just a short two and a half weeks, I’ll be heading off to the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Conference, a regional but well-established and well-recognized conference for writers. This will be my second time going and I’m looking forward to seeing Jennifer there, for her first time in attendance as I understand it. Last year was my first time ever attending a conference and now I’m addicted. Apparently, this is a common phenomenon in the writing world.
Last year was my first time and I met some people the that I’ve talked to on a daily basis since then, some weekly. A few of us formed a critique group that has since seen two of us go from unagented to agented, one of us have two successful book launches, and one of us even hit hither New York Times Bestseller list.
I was lucky enough to meet Jennifer at a local book event and I have other local writer friends, as well as an innumerable amount online.
When I finally landed my agent, I sent so much loving thanks to all of them because I truly believe I wouldn’t have gotten here without them, regardless of how much time I spent writing or the quality of my storytelling.
Writing is no longer a lonely business now that we have access to thousands of other writers online and in our local communities and I’m thankful for that. In order to be successful writer in the current publishing world, it’s imperative to connect and lean on each other. Just like any successful business, no one thrives in a vacuum.
Here are some of the reasons I’ve come to depend on the writing community, and why you should too:
1. Emotional Support. If for no other reason, here’s why you need writers in your life: when you talk about how hard this life is, and how frustrated you are, and how you’re not sure if all this work is worth it, only other writers can say “I understand” and actually mean it. They tell you we all feel that way, that it is worth it, and to keep going. And when you finally hit that goal you’ve been working toward, they’re the first to celebrate your achievement…and they’re often the loudest.
2. Resources. I’m not sure if I would know what a query letter even was if I didn’t have other writers to point me in the right direction. Or how to outline. Or which book to read to learn how to outline. Spending time with writers who are at your stage in the process or further along are a great resource in themselves for knowing what the next steps are, and they’re always willing to share what they’ve learned to help you get there.
3. Feedback. Because there is no substitute for getting specific and educated feedback on your writing itself. My prose and storytelling grew by leaps and bounds once I started having other writers read my work. Reading other writers’ work is beneficial too because we often see the mistakes we make in others’ work easier than in our own.
4. Networking. Once you get to the point that you’re ready to put yourself out there, writers have already paved the way on blogs, with agents, with publishers, and with book stores. And they’re more than happy to team up with you on promotion or refer you to right people. In an industry that can often be intimidating to get into and hard to get your name out in, writer connections make it a lot easier.
5. Friendship. Who else in the world can sit across from you while you’re on your laptop and she’s on hers, and though you’re not talking to each other, you feel completely fulfilled in her company? A writer, that’s who. There’s this thing about writers that only other writers understand and it’s our commitment to our life’s passion. Often times, people who don’t have a passion for what they do don’t quite understand why our entire lives revolve around writing, why it’s our job and our hobby, why it’s what we do during all our “free time.” But writers do. And they even let us talk about it as much as we want.
As the conference gets ever closer, I look forward to seeing old friends and making new ones. These are the people who have pulled me up and cheered me on over the past ten years, and these are the people I know I can count on for the rest of my career. What does the writing community mean to you?