Today for Writing Wednesday, my forever friend, and also writing friend, Sarah, is going to share some great ways to connect with other word nerds. Through thick and thin, track teams and choirs, organ transplants and new jobs, wedding and babies, Sarah has been there for me... in everyday life, as well as in my writing world. I echo the sentiments she shares below, mostly because I'd be next to nowhere without my writing friends. Read on, write on, and then go meet some new word nerd friends!
Writing can be a lonely business...but it doesn’t have to be.
Sometimes it is nice to be all by yourself, just you and your thoughts and your computer or notebook...putting words to paper or screen. I enjoy the solitude of writing and the quiet of it. (I am a mom to three young kids; silence is golden.)
But once you’ve written those beautiful words of yours, you need someone to share them with. What you need are your “writer friends,” as I like to call them. Even world famous author have a host of professional friends who help them from first draft to final copy. I have found writing friends in a variety of venues. Below are some of the ways that I have shared my writing with other people, whether it be with one friend or a large group. If you are looking for ways to reach out and make some writer friends, give one of these ideas a try.
The most obvious way to make writing connections is to find the people that are already in your life that like to write. I can think of four friends that that are my established “writer friends.” I have Amanda, Julie, Jodi, and Anna. One of these ladies I grew up with, and we still share writing info/ideas/inspiration all of the time. The other three ladies I met because I taught with them. We were all English teachers at the same middle school, and we shared a love for writing. I have read work written by all four of these ladies, and they have read mine. It’s nice to share your writing with friends, because you know they will be gentle with your writing! However; be cautious of the friend that says “Everything is great! Don’t change a thing!” Call your mama for that kind of praise. Most, if not all of us, can improve our writing. Look for friends that are positive and honest if you want helpful feedback.
Establish a regular writing club. With three of the ladies mentioned above, we formed a writing club. During the school year we met in someone’s classroom after work, and we each brought something to share. We took turns reading out loud, and giving honest, on-the-fly critiques. We laughed, shared, and got inspired by each other. It was soooo fun. We didn’t do any prep work because we were all too busy to commit to that. If you have a little more time on your hands, find a group and share five pages of your writing with them a week before your meeting, so that you can come with prepared, insightful comments. However you do it, keep it fun. Bring snacks. Go out to dinner and share your work. Make it a priority to keep your scheduled time sacred.
If you can’t get together in person, or you want to work with writers who don’t live near you, form an online writing club. I have also tried this route to gather feedback on my writing. Our writing group sent each other a certain number of pages each month, and we gave each person feedback. You can have everyone share each month, or take turns having just one person share. Really, this is based on how much time you all have. Set clear expectations for everyone involved and then, GO!
Look for writing workshops, writing residencies, or other venues that bring writers together. This option will normally require a little financial investment, but the money that I have put towards these experiences has come back to me tenfold. Not in the form of money, but in inspiration, valuable critiques, and new writer friends. I attended a three night, four day writing residency at Cirenaica, sponsored by the Chippewa Valley Writers Guild in Eau Claire, WI. It was amazing- like summer camp for adult writers. We wrote, we workshopped, we shared ideas and cheered each other on. I even participated in my first public reading of my (still a rough draft) work. I hope to do it again next summer. Working with writers in person, with your writing in hand, can be an eye opening experience.
If you are hesitant to share your work or have a tendency to be shy, try an online course. I took an online course in which all of the writers were working towards starting a young adult novel. I got great feedback, gave plenty of it back to the other writers...but with the anonymity of a screen. If you have money to spare, you can also hire a book coach or an editor. They come in all different price ranges and levels of experience, but it can be a very valuable investment if you are serious about a piece of writing.
These are a few ways to reach out and build your community of writer friends, and I hope some of these have given you some insight into how you can share your writing with others. Putting beautiful, meaningful, or funny writing to paper is good...but sharing it with the wider world is even better. Make someone laugh, relate, ponder, or cry because of your words.
Don’t keep your words for yourself - stories are meant to be shared.
Happy Writing! ~ Sarah
To close, I'm going to chime in with a few of my favorite and friendly writing organizations! If you are in the local La Crosse area like I am, then looking into Wwink (Women Writers Ink- not just for women!) is a great start! I love my twice a month meetings and all of the writing friends I have meet through this organization. This month to celebrate NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) they have organized an amazing line up of events... the perfect place to meet local word nerds and introduce yourself.
I also recently joined the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators and am so happy I did! This incredible nation-wide organization has state and local events including workshops, conferences and a resource-packed website. If kids are your audience... you NEED to be friends with these people.
If you are nervous about getting out there with your words... let me be your friend, or Sarah! Reach out to us and we promise we'll be the nicest, friendlies, most helpful word nerds you've ever met! Happy writing! ~ Amanda
Sarah Krosschell is a teacher, mom, and writer. She lives in Minnesota with her husband, three kids, and her dog. She is currently working on a young adult novel, and she really enjoys working with other writers. If you would like to work with Sarah, check out her revising and editing business at www.sarahkrosschell.com.