When I decided it was time to get serious about becoming a writer, I decided the first thing I would do was to search out a group of people who were interested in the same thing I was – writing seriously. I don’t know about you , but I work better and stay more focused and motivated knowing there is a group of people I am accountable to, not to mention the wealth of knowledge and encouragement you will receive from surrounding yourself with people who have either been through, or are going through what you are.
When that “ahh-haa” moment hit me and I decided to pursue writing, I sat down at the computer, popped up the Internet, and just started searching for writing groups in my area. As I scrolled down the list, I noticed there were several options that jumped out at me and I quickly contacted those groups. One was a general writing group that had writers from all genres and all experience levels and one was a group that focused specifically on children’s writing. Both groups have been very welcoming, and have become a vital part of my growth as a writer. Keep in mind, these are folks who want to share their knowledge and their secrets to success with others, otherwise they would not be in a group like this. If you choose to become part of a writer’s group, take total advantage of it – go to the group meetings, get to know the members, ask any questions and even find a mentor.
But don’t be limited to groups you can sit down and have coffee with. I took an online creative writing class through the community college in my area a couple of years ago. Although I wanted to actually participate in a class setting, it just wasn’t realistic for me time-wise or financially, so I opted to participate in an online class that was offered nationally through the college. It was great, not only for the convenience, but for the group of cheerleaders or naysayers that it put me in contact with. We could go online to the class website any time to post questions or comments about your work or someone else’s in the class. I probably learned more from those discussion forums than I actually did from the class. There is a tendency to be brutally honest when anonymity is involved! So, again, don’t just do the work, but get involved. If you can’t make it to group meetings, find an online writing buddy that you can communicate with on a regular basis regarding your writing. I recommend trying out legitimate forums and discussion groups focused on your genre so you can find someone who understands what you are writing about and who you are writing to.
With the convenience of the Internet, getting involved in the writing community is just a click away. Doing a simple search can instantly put you in virtual connection with a plethora of people who are doing what you want to do. Follow blogs from seasoned or aspiring writers (one of my favs is Writing Mommies!), visit websites of literary agents and publishers (which can provide valuable information for writers aspiring to be published), learn about workshops in your region, sign up for newsletters from legitimate writing pubs like Writer’s Digest or search for Meetup groups in your area that focus on your genre of writing. You will be amazed at how many tools and groups are out there ready for you to take advantage of.
Reading books about writing is great, having a full and impressive portfolio is great, getting an A in your college literature class is great, but having people who can help direct you, give you honest feedback and be there when you need a push is, well, priceless.