If you spend any amount of time with me, you will quickly discover 5 things.
1. I am more than slightly addicted to Diet Pepsi.
2. In the list of my life priorities, words are #2 on the list (behind my family).
3. I like lists.
4. My writing heroes include Maggie Stiefvater, Taylor Swift and Eminem. (An eclectic list, I know.)
5. If you happen to look at my hands… while I type, while I talk and use them to gesticulate, while I sign your book… you will notice my nails are always nicely manicured. It’s vice #3, right after Diet Pepsi and Cherry PopTarts. (Did I mention I like lists?)
For this blog post I am going to combine #2, 3 and 4 to create the ultimate piece of WRITING WISDOM. Also, I may or may not be drinking a Diet Pepsi while I write this. Who am I kidding? I am most definitely drinking a DP as I write this.
In an interview I once watched on a morning talk show, Taylor Swift said, “You need to find the people in this world who are the same kind of weird as you.” This is a paraphrase because it happened during a rare moment in my life when I didn’t have a pen and notebook next to me. Weird, I know. But the general truth still shines through. If you love pickles. Hang out with other pickle loving people. Go to pickle serving restaurants, attempt picklicious recipes, buy t-shirts featuring pickles, shout out your love of pickles! And while your obsession might be totally random and misunderstood, being with people who also love pickles will make you so darn happy, you will not care. There is nothing that can replace the peace, joy, productivity, inspiration or energy of spending time with people who love the same thing as you. How does this in any way, shape or form connect to writing advice? Keep reading.
If you look at Taylor’s advice again and substitute the word NERD for WEIRD, you will come up with my best piece of writing advice ever. FIND PEOPLE WHO ARE THE SAME KIND OF NERD AS YOU. What does that mean for writers? Find other word nerds, and spend time with them regularly. I have found a variety of ways to put this advice to practical use. (Ready for a list? C’mon, you knew it was coming!)
1. Attend Conferences and Writing Events
Last spring my writing partner and I jumped in the car to spend a weekend in Madison, WI at the Writer’s Institute. Three days full of keynote speakers, breakout sessions, manuscript critiques and agent pitches, social hours, public readings, new writer friends (Hi John!) and more… it was worth every penny. I also attended NerdCon in the Twin Cities last year and the opportunity to geek-out with 3,000 other word nerds was an experience I will never forget.
2. Find a critique partner and meet with them regularly.
Whether online or in person, set regularly scheduled times to share and trade your work with another word-nerd. This will force you to have quality things written on a consistent basis, and also allow you to get feedback in a safe environment. Set a schedule and stick to it to get the most out of this experience. (Shout out to my critique partner Marci! Everyone click here to read Marci’s book Lily Laughs.)
3. Take Writing Retreats
When you are free from the daily constraints of schedules, children to raise, a full-time job, TV, the laundry, etc. you are able to fully immerse yourself in your passion for writing. This summer I attended my first (and hopefully not my last) Highlights Foundation Workshop. While in rural Pennsylvania I learned about a specific niche market of writing from seasoned veterans. I also made amazing nation-wide writing friends that continue to support one another from home via the magic of the internet. A writing retreat on my bucket list can be seen by clicking here.
4. Join writing organizations
I recently moved to a new town and joined Women Writers Ink. Through this organization I was able to meet new friends, hang out with a writing group that meets every other week and also participate in the organization’s public reading and selling events. If your city doesn’t have a face to face organization, join an online group. I am part of a few very productive Facebook writing groups and with NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) officially starting on Tuesday, the internet will be full of writers looking to make new connections. SCWBI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) is another great community to consider joining.
To my writing friends, near and far, present, past and future, thank you for the countless gifts you have given me. Time, critiques, listening ears, words of encouragement, Facebook likes and shares, evenings of reflection, weekends of rejuvenation, weeks of learning, advice, recommendations, reviews and more. You are the champions of craft, the master marketers, the forever friends that make what could be a lonely and solitary place dominated by a blinking cursor a fulfilling world of words and friends.
So, if you are reading this and thinking, “Man, I really need to go round up some nerds!” I resolutely concur. Open your door, internet browser, community center brochure, local college course booklet… open your mind and go find your nerds, whatever kind they might be. I promise, you won’t be disappointed.
What kind of NERD are you? I’d love to hear all about it in the comments below! Happy reading! Happy writing!