Writing is hard work. You’re going to engage in a lot of antisocial behavior, ride some fictitious emotional roller coasters, and spiral down dark vortexes of self-doubt. The worst part is that not a single person in your life will understand, except… other writers! This is why connecting with writers is so incredibly important. As a writer, you are going to have days where you absolutely despise the writing process, and other times you are going to write something that is so brilliant you just HAVE to share it with someone who will, you know, care. That is where your writing friends come in. Here’s the challenge, though, how are you going to meet people when you are supposed to be locked away working on your project? Today, I want to talk about some of the ways you can meet writing friends in person. Not only will participating in these sorts of events and groups allow you to meet other writers, but they will also benefit your writing as a whole, so you don’t have to feel like you’re taking time from your writing to socialize (although doing that every once in a while is not a bad idea!). So let’s get into it. Here are five ways to connect with other authors.
№ 1: Writing Retreats
Writing retreats are a great way for connecting with writers, and get a ton of writing done. Usually, a writing retreat gathers all different sorts of writers together to spend a few hours working on their individual projects. There’s typically some goal setting in the beginning, and then you write! These retreats can last for an afternoon or week, it all depends on the retreat. There are writer’s retreats offered around the world in exotic destinations, but these trips can be expensive. If you’re looking for a more economical option, see what your local community has to offer. If you’re a student, check with your university’s writing center. Libraries are another great place to look. If you can’t find any retreats in your area, try organizing one of your own! Throw up some flyers in your favorite coffee shop, library, or book stores (be sure to ask permission) and have people send you an email if they are interested! You’ll be surprised how many authors are hiding out there just waiting for an opportunity to meet other writers.
№ 2: Creative Writing Workshops
Much like the writing retreats, writing workshops can range from local groups all the way to trips that cost thousands of dollars. They can be one session or several sessions over a couple of months. Unlike writing retreats, however, workshops are more structured, often led by a single teacher who has exercises and lessons prepared. Many of these workshops are tailored to specific writing styles and genres. This is a great way to learn some new writing strategies and tips. It’s also a wonderful way to meet writers that work with the same genres or themes as you.
№ 3: Memberships to Writing Associations
There are many formal writing groups and societies that already have tons of writers subscribed. Furthermore, they offer all sorts of events throughout the year that you can attend in your area or within driving distance. These associations are organized around specific genres, demographics, or age groups, which makes connecting with writers whose work is similar to yours very easy. Not only are you going to be meeting people with similar writing styles, but you will meet people all the way from beginners who have never been published, to some of the most successful writers in the biz. These associations typically have a yearly fee, but if you take advantage of all they have to offer, you can really get some bang for your buck! Writersrelief.com has a wonderful list of some of these associations, which you can find here.
№ 4: Author Readings
Many libraries, theaters, and bookstores invite authors to do readings of their latest work. They have Q&A sessions and often talk about writing and their process. There are two reasons people go to these events, either they love to read or they love to write (or, obviously, both). Now this sort of an event is not structured for networking. You will have to go out of your way to talk to people. Maybe someone asked a question that you thought was interesting. Go up and start a conversation with them and hopefully you can exchange email addresses or connect on social media. I’ve even had authors who were presenting, offer to go get a drink afterward or send me materials that would help answer a question I’d asked. The key to these events is getting out of your comfort zone and approaching other writers and readers.
№ 5: Book Clubs
Most writers are serious readers and what better way to connect with readers than to join a book club. It’s not a guarantee that there will be any writers in your group, but odds are there will be a couple. Even if you don’t meet any writers, you will be able to get an idea of how people are reading some books that are currently popular. You might even recruit some people who would be willing to read and critique your work.
I hope this helps give you some ideas for ways to connect with fellow writers. I would, however, like to include a slight disclaimer. I, being from a very small town, understand that many of these opportunities are not found in rural areas. Fret not! Not only can you maybe make a little day trip to a bigger town close to yours, but I will also be providing in the near future, an article focused on meeting writers remotely using the wonderful world wide web, so stay tuned!