Find Your People

Recently, I glanced at some old journals and was surprised to see that I’d jotted down the basic premise of my first novel several times over the years. Clearly, I wanted to do it–I kept saying “write a novel about X.” So why did it take me fifteen years to begin?  I suspect it was because I didn’t have a creative writing community.

Sometimes, the most difficult thing about beginning a new project is feeling alone and/or uncertain about your efforts. If you are just starting to write novels seriously, you may not know about the wonderful opportunities out there for you: thanks to the magic of the interwebs, you can connect with people all over the world in a matter of minutes.

1. Find an organization devoted to your genre.  There are groups for mystery writers, romance writers, sci-fi writers, fantasy writers, children’s book writers, etc.  Just do internet searches to find what you are interested in. Check out their websites, get a sense of the vibe there, and join the ones that seem to fit your style.

(For mystery, I suggest Sisters in Crime and the subgroup, Guppies.  All kinds of benefits are associated with membership, including discussion groups, regular newsletters, online classes, critique opportunities, not to mention an instant community with the authors you are probably reading already!)

There are also general writer-based groups (not dependent on genre) online, of course.

Also check out the local groups in your area that offer activities. (For example, in Colorado, we have Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers and Pikes Peak Writers, which have annual conferences as well as other events and classes.)

Here’s a useful list of writer associations.

2. Join NaNoWriMo. Once you sign up for that, you will begin to receive motivational emails and information on how to connect with the gazillion other people engaged in the business of writing.  And take the leap…give National Novel Writing Month and Camp NaNoWriMo a try.   You’ll be surprised at how exhilarating it is to be racing the clock with a whole tribe of writers doing the exact same thing.

3. Look for events to attend, both virtually and IRL. From one-day free workshops to week-long conferences, online seminars to ongoing critique groups, there are a wide range of things happening in the writerly world.  Attending them can give you a real boost in terms of knowledge, confidence, and community.

4. Follow authors you admire on Twitter or Facebook.  See what they reference in terms of resources–chances are, they’re plugged into some kind of community from which you might benefit.

5. Read blogs by writers, editors, agents, and publishers–and participate in the conversations.   (You are always welcome here, of course.  We love when people talk to us.)

6. Be like the illustrious Inklings and the Detection Club: start your own group (although it’s hard to imagine, they were earnest newbies too at some point).

No matter what, don’t be shy.  Jump in.  You’ll be amazed at how much a sense of community can motivate and sustain you.

(Writers, what else would you suggest?  How did you find Your People?)

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12 thoughts on “Find Your People”

  1. My entire writing journey changed when I found “my” writing community, through Sisters in Crime and various writers I’ve met through Twitter. It’s funny, because as a newspaper reporter, I had a built-in community that I probably took for granted. But when it came to my fiction writing, I was (initially) all alone. I’ve been grateful to meet friends, CPs and betas both online and IRL. It’s made fiction writing a team sport in a way, rather than just a lonely pursuit.

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  2. You are so right. For years I thought, “I should write that novel.” But it wasn’t until I joined Sisters in Crime locally (Pittsburgh) that I actually got off my butt and did anything. What a terrific group of writers!

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  3. I agree. I wrote for years before learning about or joining Sisters in Crime. I didn’t even know there was an online community! I thought I had to attend monthly meetings. Years later, I can see that joining that community and then discovering The Guppies made a difference for me.

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  4. Thanks for commenting, all! Agree that SinC is incredible! It’s great how online communities bring people together. I can remember my first (failed) attempt at a novel right after undergrad. It was just me and my typewriter. I even ran out of ink as I was typing, which seemed like some kind of metaphor/sign that it was a doomed effort. If there had been an internet back then, maybe I could have talked to someone, and we’d have laughed about it, and maybe I would have kept going.

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  5. I’m going to share this article for sure! Everything in it is so helpful. I truly think one of the best parts of becoming a fiction writer has been the new friends I have made. Often I meet them online and then we become real friends in real life. I finally have found my “people.”

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  6. Too true! I’ve had a similar experience. When I wrote my first book I did it entirely in isolation. I never dreamed there might be such a thing as writers’ communities. Somehow while I was bopping around the ‘net, I came across an ad for Bouchercon which was being held in Madison that year. I went and was absolutely blown away! I learned there about SinC and Guppies and plunged right in. There is an enormous relief in finding your people.

    Great post, Cynthia!

    (And it’s given me an idea for my next post. Tee hee!)

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  7. Kristi, that’s lovely! Yay!

    Donna, so glad you went to Bouchercon. You are brave and awesome. (Glad you have an idea for your next post, too!) I don’t know Kboards…thanks for mentioning them.

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  8. I think your list is great, Cynthia. Rocky Mt. Fiction Writers and Pikes Peak Writers are very good. There’s a conference each year in Castle Rock that has led to some writers I’ve worked with meeting agents in a small, easy venue–is it the Castle Rock Writers Conference?

    I participate in a hastag in every Monday on Twitter: #MondayBlogs. It’s full of indy writers. Many of them are British, so you either have to get up VERY early in the morning to catch them or you can schedule your tweets or you just retweet and hope they’ll see your tweet when they get home from work 🙂 #MondayBlogs asks participants to read & retweet other people’s posts–it works pretty well in developing a network.

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  9. Josie, thanks so much for adding that fabulous information! You are so good at The Twitter!

    (Not sure if the conference you mention is the PPW one or a different one? PPW is in Colorado Springs.)

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