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?)