There are probably writers whose lives do not improve by spending time with other writers, but I don’t know any.
It’s a facile idea that writing is a solitary profession. I don’t think it is for most writers. Check a writer’s biography and you find other writers. Even the famously reclusive Emily Dickinson maintained friendships with writers.
It is by finding our tribe that we grow into our truth. If you are trying to decide whether or not to spend time with other writers, either at a conference or in a writing group or virtually, I say do it. Even if you don’t feel worthy. Even if you think you’re not a ‘real enough’ writer. Make time and space in your life for your tribe.
I facilitate two small writing groups in town and I’m a member of two other writing tribes. This week we had a flurry of new people at the Thursday night meeting. Some of them said that they were inspired to write more and plan to be back. That’s fantastic! I hope they do return because the truth is that we are all stronger with them.
Writing groups cost time at a minimum. Some cost money like the Superstars Writing Seminar or the group that meets with Mary Robinette Kowal to write with her. It’s time and money well-spent in my opinion. Not just for the inspiration, but for the friends who will help me in the future and for the contacts made.
Large writing groups of people in different stages of the writing journey are great for learning. There’s almost always someone in a large group that knows how to do something few others do. In Memphis Writers we have a person who has extensive experience with small presses. We have another who has expertise as a doctor and has researched medical history. We have another with a day job writing marketing materials. We have several editors. If I need help, chances are someone knows where to point me to get what I need.
The friends I’ve made in writing groups that I value the most are those who walk beside me on the journey and push me to write merely by being part of my life. I’m blessed to know them. Often the tiny writing groups offer the deepest friendships. So do both, small and large.
If you don’t yet have a tribe, here’s how to find one:
- First check Facebook, which is where a lot of writing groups organize their meetings. Search with the words Writers and your location. For example, ‘Colorado Writers’ or ‘Denver Writers’ or ‘Memphis Writers.’ You’ll also find a number of virtual writing groups this way.
- Check MeetUp.com for writing groups.
- Attend local conventions. For example, you can find a list of Science Fiction/Fantasy and Horror conventions here. Similar lists exist for mystery/crime and romance conventions. Be aware that gaming conventions and comic conventions often have excellent Writers Tracks. At GenCon the writers symposium was like an entire separate convention within the convention.
- Find national conventions for writers, but be careful. My recommendation is that you look for conventions that focus on business or craft but not on connecting to agents. The latter do not offer the same kinds of opportunities to network with each other. Good ones to check out are Superstars Writing Seminars, Imaginarium, and 20Booksto50K. There are so many more. If you know of a convention that’s great for writers, let me know in the comments.
- You can find small personal writing groups organized around a writer by checking Patreon for your favorite writers. For example, Mary Robinette Kowal, Cat Rambo, Dan Wells, and others have little writing groups that meet on Slack or Discord or via video conferencing.
May you find the people who lift up your soul, who join you on your journey, and help you become who you want to be.
Be well, friends!