Friday, May 8, 2020

You're Not Alone

For a good many writers, the idea of having some “alone” time to be able to write is a luxury.  Right now, so many of us are having that opportunity as we sit at home, unable to go out, or choosing to stay inside. The thought of being free to have the time to write seems like a luxury to many. But others are finding that the thought  of those empty pages on the writing program are not exactly what we thought it was going to be. Writing is a lonely process for the most part and sooner or later we discover we actually want to either bounce our ideas off someone else, or tell someone else what we’re doing or share our work. Yes, some people want their writing private, but if you’re writing fiction for sale, you’re going to want to share it, sooner or later! 

And what about the writing process itself? Much as we value the alone hours, sometimes we get a wild new idea and just want to be able to share it or get an opinion. We want someone who might be able to stimulate our stories,  help us move our stories forward, or look at our stories in a different way. Sometimes we want to try out a passage or a conversation with another writer or , or take our work to a critique group for a variety of opinions and ideas. Another opinion can help us see our work in a new way. After all  if we’re writing for the popular market, we’re going to want to sell our work sooner or later. Writing for sale means writing for others.

Where do we find those other writers  these days when we may be stuck inside? Naturally most of the social process these days must be done online but that doesn’t have to limit your choices of working with other writers.  Writing groups have always been a source of pleasure and instruction for me. From critique groups to learning opportunities to social chats, to actually writing together in anthologies, I’ve found that working with other writers is a great way to not only improve my work but learn new ways of looking at the overall process.  How do you find these other groups, especially right now when a group gathering may not work?

 Look for groups in your area that offer an online presence as well as in-person meetings. That might be different these days, but look into what is out there for writers in your area. National and international online writing groups can also provide a good way to connect with other writers in your genre or in many different locations.  For the past few years I have worked with Savvy Authors, an online group of writers from around the world.  Groups like Savvy have authors in all genres and also teach writing classes or offer special programs.

 Take part in an anthology. Look for opportunities where you can work with a group of other authors on a anthology of either short stories or novellas.  Often the anthology will have an overriding theme or idea that you need to write to, but it can be a great opportunity to get your work published and with a group of other writers who have their own followings.  My first published work was in an anthology of older heroines finding romance. It was fun to write and we all ended up with a publishing credit.  Since then I have participated in two others – in one our unifying force was a travelling cat and in the other we all had to write a story based on a letter. 

Teach classes to writing groups if you’re published or have a background in the writing process.  Beginning writers love to learn and connect with other writers. Over the years I have managed to develop relationships with various beginning and published authors from around the US and as far away as South Africa and Japan.

Work with a co-author. Prefer a smaller presence? Try writing with a co-author or a couple of co-authors.  For the past 12 years I have worked off and on with Sue Viders.  We have published five books on writing together and are currently finishing up another that should be published within the next couple of months.  Sue and I began as critique partners and discovered we both enjoyed working with other writers and teaching classes so we’ve presented at conferences and at local writing groups as well. 

We had so much fun talking about writing and our own fiction books, we decided we were going to co-author a fiction work together and we are in the process of doing that now.  Look for our amateur sleuths solving a murder in the next few months!  I’ll also be writing a blog on the joys and troubles of writing with a  co-author in future blogs.   

Work with a critique group.  Writing with a co-author can be fun but so can working with a critique group. These days there are not only in-person meetings, but you can find critique groups online as well.  Critiquing can be valuable because you get a number of opinions on your story before you send it to readers. These  helpful writers can show you when your story is headed in the wrong direction or point out simple problem areas.

The writing  world doesn’t have to be different for you as a writer. We’re still needing to be in front of our computers or sitting down with a notebook to write. These days can be lonely and worrisome but it’s also a good time to escape to your own world and visit with your characters in different places YOU get to build and YOU get to control.  Any time that gets too confining look for these other ways to reconnect.  We are all in this together!

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