I’m not talking about money. I’m talking about the emotional support that gets you through the maddening, frustrating, insane times of being a writer as well as the euphoric ones. Writer support can be all sorts of things: constructive criticism, marketing advice, hand-holding via telephone as you hit the “submit” key, or a sympathetic ear when someone’s absolute drivel breaks sales records while your own masterpiece struggles far back in the pack.
The best choice (in my opinion) is a friend who is also a writer. They’ll have your back and you’ll have theirs. And they will always question whether your spot to hide the body is a good one.
But let’s say you don’t have anyone. Where to go?
Meetup.com has many different writers groups. Some read and critique work. Some offer a space to meet and write—without talking—for one hour, surrounded by fellow writers. Chatting afterward is acceptable. I’m sure there are more but those are two types of groups that I’ve encountered.
Let’s say you live in an area where Meetup has yet to offer a group that appeals to you and you don’t want to start one of your own. Are there any colleges around? Bookstores? In today’s market, many bookstores provide more than sales. There might be a group they know of.
What if there’s literally no one you know face-to-face who can provide you with what you need? Though I believe real life contact is important, I also think the Internet has useful options. Searching “writers groups” and “online writers groups” offers a wealth of choices.
How do you choose?
You make a list. Write down exactly what kind of support you’re looking for. It’s a waste of time to join a group that offers critiques when you’re looking for someone to walk with you on the path of marketing. Be specific and work your way toward general.
Remember, too, that you’ll be providing support as well. It’s definitely a give-and-take relationship and you should be as helpful as you want people to be to you. Leeches aren’t appreciated.
I have my writers group. We’ve met for over fifteen years and have pretty much covered every aspect of writing and publishing while also critiquing each other’s work. We’re friends as well. But we didn’t immediately form into a perfect group like some mystical key-in-a-lock connection or love at first sight. As a matter of fact, we met when we all worked in the same office, the publishing division of a financial organization. It made sense: we gravitated toward fiction and it was a natural progression to meet. (Proof that writers groups can flourish anywhere.)
I’m aware of how lucky I am to also have supportive nonwriter friends and family. But it’s good to talk with a fellow writer and discuss final proofs and blues and swing into our different marketing approaches in the next breath without explanation.
So, take stock of where you are and what you need. No matter what stage you’re at, support is a steadying hand to work thorough a career that is more solitary than most. I wish for you that you find it and nurture it and pass it on.
* Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net