As a writer, do you ever feel a little, well, disconnected from the world? Are there ever entire days that pass before you realize that you haven’t actually spoken one word aloud to another human being? (No, we’re not counting online chatting!) Do you pick your kids up from school and find yourself surprised to hear your own voice after eight hours of silence working at home?
Yup, I’ve been there.
One of my big goals for 2018 has been to do more in-person networking as a writer. Sure, locking yourself away in your bedroom to actually write is an important and crucial part of the writing process. But so is reminding yourself that you are a part of the real world, too. And I believe that, as a writer, putting yourself out there and making connections will only make you a better writer, too. There are stories everywhere, but sometimes, it means getting out there and finding them. Not to mention the benefit of talking to people who understand your excitement at landing the byline of your dreams, the agony of waiting to hear back on a pitch, and the pride in nailing that perfect closing sentence. Writers are a unique bunch and sometimes, despite our affinity for alone time, we need to mingle, too. Here are a few suggestions for connecting more with people as a writer:
Check your local library
Many libraries have writing groups that offer writers the chance to get together for free in a comfortable setting. I joined a group at our local library and I really enjoyed hearing from writers at every stage and age in the game; there is a lot to be gained from getting to know writers outside of your beat and experience.
Host your own get-together
Want to meet more writers but don’t know where to go? How about starting with you? Put yourself out there and host your own writers’ get-together. Maybe consider putting together a mini-workshop of sorts, inviting a professional to share his or her experience, or just keeping it simple and hosting a writers’ meet-up at a local coffee shop or bookstore. There’s no party like a writing party! You could also consider talking to your local bookstore or library to see if they are in need of any volunteer workshops; if you’re willing to run a short workshop on writing, for example, you might be able to meet a lot of up-and-coming writers in your community to connect with. The American Library Association even offers a step-by-step guide and helpful tips for hosting your own writers’ workshop.
Attend a writers’ conference
Seriously, if you haven’t attended a professional writing conference yet, what are you waiting for? Writing conferences allow the opportunity to gain valuable education, professional growth and insight, and maybe even more importantly, connect with other writers and editors.
A writing conference can be as simple as a local, one-day retreat or it may be a longer weekend or week event. The Association of Writers and Writer’s Programs has a searchable, comprehensive list of pretty much every type of writing conference, retreat, or event in North America, as well as some international events. And if you you’re short on funds, ask the conference organizers if they are in need of volunteers—many times the conference organizer can issue you a free or discounted ticket in exchange for you helping at the event.
Hire a coach
While this might not necessarily be an option that plugs you in to a whole host of people, it nevertheless is an option to start connecting with another human. And yes, I realize how pathetic that sounds, but I also know that spending a lot of time alone can kind of mess with your mind after a while. If you’re feeling adrift in your business or your work, you might just need to bounce some ideas of an unbiased person who wants to help you. (Unbiased because you’re paying them.) Many businesses hire consultants or coaches to help them move to the next level, and as a writer, you are your company, so investing in a coach can be a smart business move for yourself as well. There are many different types of coaches you can hire, from coaches like the one-on-one writing teachers here in every IFW course, to more business-specific coaches to help you organize the backend of your writing biz.
Get out of the house
Whether you volunteer somewhere, join a gym, attend a yoga class, or sign up to be the room mom in your kid’s class, just make it a point to get out of the house and do something completely unrelated to writing.
Plug in with a local business group
So many writers tend to think of themselves as solo artists, but you know what? You are a business owner and as such, you have every right to plug in and network with any business groups in your area. I just joined one myself and while I feel a bit self-conscious to be there among people who have “physical” businesses, I am looking forward to connecting more with people and learning some new business strategies. Business is business, no matter what you “do” and you will benefit from getting to know local business owners—and maybe even get to know some new potential clients in the process.
Organize a writers’ meet-up
At this very moment, I am on a plane to meet up with my online writing group in person for the very first time ever. This is a group that I have been a part of for years and they have virtually cheered me on through almost every major accomplishment and loss in both my professional and personal lives. From celebrating through byline wins to mourning a miscarriage with me to just being a listening ear during those moments that only writers can understand, my writing group has been so important in my life. Which is why it only makes sense to actually get together in person, right?
For many of us, writing as a job feels like a dream come true. But no matter how much we love what we do, we also can’t forget what drew us to our craft in the first place—and that’s the people behind the stories and words that connect all of us. So, get out there and connect! (And then get back to writing, of course.)
Chaunie Brusie is a labor and delivery nurse turned writer. She lives in Michigan with her husband, four young kids, and a flock of chickens. Find her at chauniebrusie.com.