It Takes a Blog

As every writer knows, writing is a solitary endeavor. You, your keyboard, and ideas. That’s pretty much the whole ball of wax.

Or…is it?

I decided to join New Jersey Romance Writers in January of 2011. What a long, strange, productive year it’s been! In addition to all of the great tips on craft and technique, I learned writing doesn’t have to be so isolating. There are many wonderful aspiring writers out there, most of whom are happy to help with comments, ideas, and even a sympathetic ear when you need it. Because, really, can someone who HASN’T experienced the soul-crushing rejection from an agent or publisher truly understand what it feels like?

If you’re searching for writing pals, you can’t do better than the local RWA chapters. Many of these, including mine, have critique group programs where you can find one or more critique partners. Some even have published author mentorships, which allow an unpublished writer access to a published author for some length of time.

And there are plenty of opportunities to connect with other writers beyond local RWA chapters. Take online contests, such as Mills & Boon New Voices and Harlequin’s So You Think You Can Write, to name a few. Also, NaNoWriMo is an online community participating in the National Novel Writing Month, where you write an entire novel in the month of November. On the website are opportunities to upload your work to have other comment on it as well as forums to connect with and support other participants.

And let’s not forget about social media. While Facebook doesn’t exactly make it easy to meet other writers you don’t already know, Twitter sure does. Think of Twitter like a big cocktail party where you can find people who share your interests. I have many author friends on Twitter that I’ve never even met in person. But I know they’re in cyberspace, available for advice, questions, and bitch fests. Learn the hashtags on Twitter, like #writing, #amwriting, #askeditor, and #askagent. Follow people who write what you do and then engage in conversation with them. Follow agents, editors, and reviewers. Follow your favorite authors (read: follow — not STALK!).

I’ve learned I write better when I’m able to knock around ideas and have other folks critique my work. Not everyone feels this way, I realize. But my CP’s, the Femmes, have helped shape who I am as a writer. They help drag me back when I’m hopelessly off track and applaud the loudest when something goes right. No one can write your stories for you. (If they can, I call dibs on Kristan Higgins.) But you should be able to find a few folks to help support you along the way.

So now you’ve met all the Femmes. I couldn’t be more excited to be part of this collaboration and to know these amazing women. This blog is a way to get ourselves out there a bit more, put our thoughts out there for you to comment on. (Whether the world is ready for us or not is another matter altogether.)

So tell us…how did YOU find your writing support network?

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9 Comments

  1. hieubietusa

     /  November 28, 2011

    Great article…I enjoy fiction…but a piece such as this is well-worth the read.
    I joined a national group(NJRW), it has helped me so much I can not measure the affect on my work…or the following effects from that choice.
    Solitude is a tendency that sometimes inspires, but also leaves me in a fantasy land.
    My great critique partner from the group draws me out of my shell onto the path that will lead me over that DEAD END I often find myself.
    Meeting people that have been rejected and also talking to those that “reject” gives one an insight into the mentality of today’s needs in literature.
    Thanks for the read, Joanna
    Joe…

    Reply
    • Thanks, Joe! I think all of us tend to end up in fantasy land sometimes. It’s nice to have someone to bring us back to reality. Hope to see you at the holiday party!

      Reply
  2. Hi Joanna,

    Great post!

    My critique group consists of my BFF. She didn’t even start reading romance until I started writing it – because she was curious to learn the genre. Talk about a true friend! She now reads everything I write and her suggestions are always right on track. Her feedback is invaluable to me.

    The support of the extended community – at conferences, meetings, on chat groups and Twitter – is also critical to me and takes a lot of the loneliness out of writing for me.

    Reply
    • Thanks, D! You have one great friend there. I’ve been trying to convert my sister to romance for years to no avail. πŸ™‚ As part of MY extended community, thanks for all of your support!

      Reply
  3. Mo Boylan

     /  November 28, 2011

    Hey Joanna! I’ve been around writers since before I decided to seriously write a book. I met them through my reviewing. They became and still are my support system.

    Early on I realized I needed a critique partner. I found one via a loop I belonged to. She was invaluable to me but our colaboration ended when her writing career took off and she could no longer give me the time I needed. So I went critique partner searching and looked no further than NJRW. I wanted a cp that wrote in my genre (historical romance) so she would understand the nuances of the era etc. And I found her. She and another NJRW member are my current critique partners.

    Besides my critique partners, I have friends within the industry and through my other chapter, RWA Online, who are always there to nag, and inspire and cheer me on. But my biggest supporter…was my mother. She always taught me to reach for the stars and to strive to attain my dream. My biggest regret is that she didn’t live long enough to read my book. You can bet who this book will be dedicated to if it sells πŸ˜‰

    Mo

    Reply
    • Hi Mo! Sorry to hear about your mom, but I’m sure she’d be proud of all you accomplished thus far. And it’s not “if” it sells, but “when” it sells!!

      Reply
  4. Leigh Raffaele

     /  November 29, 2011

    Joanna, once again the Violet Femmes come through with another blog post!

    NJRW has been a source of support and encouragement through all the rejections. You’re right, no one other than writers know the painful process of rejection. Non-writing friends and family put little stock in how much we’ve toiled over each individual word, only to have the entire project rejected. They also don’t understand that our characters are ‘real’ to us. Sometimes my husband and son’s eyes glaze over when I talk about the ficticious world I’ve created. But if I mention it to my critique partners, they engage in serious discussions about what my characters are doing. Ah…the feeling of acceptance with them is immeasureable.

    Like you, I found my critique partners at NJRW. They’ve now become my best friends. We’re so luck to have found such a wonderful organization!

    Reply
    • Hi Leigh! Thanks for stopping by. We are so lucky for NJRW. It’s such a great, supportive group. And I know the “glaze over” well! My husband is the most supportive man in the world regarding my writing until I start talking plot lines….

      Reply
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