There’s a common perception that writers tend to hole up with their computers and rarely interact with others, or that they're so afraid of copyright theft, they jealously guard their secrets. Nothing could be further from the truth. Despite the solitary hours that go into developing and penning our ideas, writers are generous people who freely offer their time and talents to help one another.
Let’s look at some ways to tap into the creative synergy of this vibrant community.
When I interviewed writers on how they help one another, critique groups topped the list. In such groups, writers offer advice to one another by pointing out unclear passages, overused words, point of view and grammar errors. They hold each other accountable by expecting work to be submitted on a regular basis. They share tips about agents, publishers, comp titles, and more. Critique partners offer moral support and provide encouragement when the going gets rough, and cheer for each other when good news is shared. Writers often develop lasting friendships over years of meeting with a critique group.
Writers frequently act as first readers for other writers. Drawing on their own experience and expertise, they can point out places that still need revision and suggest ways to market the work. There’s no better first reader than another writer.
Joint Marketing Efforts:
Groups of writers can extend their success by engaging in joint marketing efforts. I belong to a group of local writers, Lake Authors of the Wilderness. Because we all write in different genres, we don’t critique, but our monthly meetings still offer support, encouragement, writing and publishing tips. Our joint marketing efforts include purchasing space at book festivals and craft fairs. We take turns manning the booth and making sales. The diversity of our offerings helps to bring in customers. It's a win-win for everyone!
At conferences, writers network and present, sharing their expertise. Conferences are great opportunities to pick up helpful tips, meet and mingle with new and old friends. They can be large or small--often organized by professional organizations such as Mystery Writers of America (MWA) and Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). These conferences can be good sources for finding critique partners, and help to fill a writer’s creative cup.
Podcasts and Webinars:
There are a plethora of podcasts and webinars through which writers reach out to other writers. These presentations, targeted toward specific needs and interests, serve as ongoing training for writers and help introduce listeners to important developments in the publishing industry.
Write-ins/Virtual Writing Spaces:
Many writers find it helpful to write with others. This can be in an actual location, such as a coffee shop, or a virtual writing space. These groups offer structured time to write, with breakout sessions to discuss, ask for feedback, and offer insight. Writer Carol Nissenson works with a Virtual Writing Space hosted through Instagram.
Other groups that offer online meetings include:
Learning Essentials https://medium.com/my-learning-essentials/introducing-writing-together-e99009232774
- Writing Momentum.com https://www.writingmomentum.com/writingmoments/
- Camp NaNoWriMo https://nanowrimo.org/what-is-camp-nanowrimo and others.
Many writers volunteer their time and talents to write blog posts on topics of interest to other writers.
- Our own GROG Blog https://groggorg.blogspot.com/ offers interviews with writers and editors, news about events for writers, book reviews and behind-the-scenes author stories.
- Anita McDivitt Barios’ Fabric of Words https://amb.mystrikingly.com/ reviews books and shares writing advice.
- Always in the Middle reposts 5-7 blog articles for Middle Grade writers each week on Marvelous Middle Grade Monday (MMGM) https://gpattridge.com/
- Teaching Authors https://www.teachingauthors.com/ offers weekly posts from six authors who also teach writing.
There are many, many more! Beth Schmelzer, who sent me a marvelous list, says, “So many blogs, so little time. Each blog has a different style, perspective, and appeal to readers and writers.” Find one that speaks to you.
Spread the word:
One of the most important ways writers help each other is by spreading the word about each other’s books. We can all join this effort. When someone you know publishes a new book, attend their launch party and review the book on Amazon and Goodreads. Buy the book, give it as a gift, and ask your library to stock it on their shelves.
Linda Acorn Budzinski sent an inspiring story of how a writer friend helped spread the word about her book, Em and Em. The writer and her daughter co-reviewed the book for Your Teen Magazine. The daughter’s friends all read the book, and one of the friends' mother, who is a TV producer, brought the book to her company’s attention. As a result, the book was optioned for television.
Suzi Weinert in my Lake Authors group had a similar experience. A writer friend recommended Suzi’s book, Garage Sale Stalker, to Hallmark, where she worked. As a result, Suzi’s book and characters became the basis for Hallmark’s popular Garage Sale Mystery series.
Writer Natalie Rompella reminds us of the Golden Rule. “Whatever you’d like others to do for your book, do it for theirs.”
Tap the Synergy:
Linda Acorn Budzinski sums it up: “Writers help me all the time through moral support, friendship, feedback, and just plain understanding the life of a writer when no one else seems to!”
Tapping into the expertise and energy of the writing community is well worth the effort. You’ll learn much, form lasting friendships, and find support for every step on your writing journey.
a big thank you to the generous writers who shared their stories and tips for
this article: Linda Acorn Budzinski, Dana Wilson Easley, Barbara Ellen, Pam
Evans, Kathryn Gaglione Hughes, Jennifer Loizeaux, Sharon Lyon, Carmela Martino, Eileen
Meyer, Carol Nissenson, Natalie Rompella, Joyana Peters, Beth Schmelzer, Debra
Kempf Shumaker, Ann McCallum Staats, Amy Thernstrom, and Suzi Weinert.