Whether you’re just starting out on the path to professional writing or you’ve been a writer for years, there are a few pieces of advice that show up time and again.
Treat writing like a business.
Write all the time.
Find your tribe.
I’m a huge supporter of these common ideas and could expound upon why ad nausea, but the one I really want to talk about is the last piece of advice: Find your tribe.
Writing is a solitary sport. Whether you write professionally or write for a hobby, whether you write novels, essays or plays, you will spend a great deal of time banging your head against a wall by yourself, wondering why your characters aren’t behaving the way they promised you they would or what that word–yes that word, what the hell is that word–the one for, ya know, that thing– could possibly be? For so many reasons, this freedom and independence of mind if wonderful, but it isn’t everything.
Because, as writers, we take inspiration from the world around us. I know I’m the exception as an extroverted writer, but whether your enjoy talking to strangers or find you recharge with time alone at home, exploring the world outside of our bedrooms is practically a requirement for actually getting any writing done. Because there is a fine line between being alone to write and being lonely.
So how do you find your tribe?
Well, you don’t actually need to leave home to do it. Your tribe can come from around the world or from your own backyard. Find other writers – join writing groups that meet every month to discuss trends in the industry. Go to open mic nights. Chat with fellow authors on Twitter. These writers are invaluable for so many reasons.
Last week, I went to my third Romance Writers of American annual conference. One of the greatest joys of this event is watching groups of friends who haven’t seen each other in months or even years yell in excitement and collapse into group hugs in the lobby.
There are the women who help you out of writing holes.
These are the women who read, review and help promote your books.
These are the women who voice solidarity at your setbacks and celebration at your successes.
They will help you write the best book you possibly could write. They will help you find the right people to get your book into the hands of editors and agents. They will help you to navigate the industry, new technology, news, and ideas. They will read and review your book.
And they will drink with you in the hotel lobby and listen to your rants about quarter-life crises. They will share rooms with you. They will share adventures with you–near or far. This tribe, this writer tribe, will become a life tribe, people you can ask for help, people you can ask for advice, people you can ask for support.
Writing and life are not mutually exclusive. They are not either or. Writing and life are intertwined, connected, together. Your tribe is the same way. They will help you make your books better and they will help you make your life better.
I recently joined the Music City Romance Writers of American chapter last month when I moved to Nashville and they welcomed me with open arms and smiles on their faces. We enjoyed meals together at the conference and I look forward to attending my next meeting with a brand new group of friends.
But I also saw my New York City chapter at the conference, an incredible group of women who I’ve been so lucky to get to know this past year and whom I will dearly miss. And they will dearly miss me. The hugs, love, and support I got from these women is overwhelming and I know that they will remain lifelong friends no matter where I move. In fact, one author I incredibly admire from New York told my new chapter that their loss was Nashville’s gain. And that is enough to keep anyone above water when the chips are down.
Find your tribe and everything else will come easier. Writing is hard. But you don’t have to go it alone. ♦