by Tracy Million Simmons
My local writing group has so many members now it is sometimes a bit difficult to find a seat at the table! I think part of our success is that the group is filled with people who have "can do" attitudes. It's contagious! I've long been a believer in the sentiment that we all rise and fall on the same wave. I think part of the success of our local group is that we are constantly looking for ways to support each other and challenge each other in our creative pursuits. The following "tip list" is largely inspired by what has taken place in my local writing group.
¨ Attend workshops and readings whenever possible. Online courses can be awesome, but nothing beats meeting other writers face to face. (Watch the Kansas Authors Club calendar or check on the offerings at your nearest university or community college, local library, or independent bookstore.)
¨ Invite another writer (or 2 or 3) to meet you at the coffee shop for writing talk and “write-ins” where you sit together but work on individual projects for a set period of time.
¨ Build yourself a better writing community—your friends and family may or may not understand why you want to write. Spending time with writing friends will help keep you focused. Other writers will provide great advice and feedback to get you over hurdles as you meet them. If the types of opportunities you are looking for don’t exist in your area, create them!
¨ Publishing your work can be fun at any stage of the game, but starting with a focus on fun takes the pressure off. Print a chapbook of your favorite pieces for sharing with friends. Individualized chapbooks make great birthday gifts, holiday cards, or simply something fun and unique to share with those you love.
¨ Find another writer to share critiques and exchanges of proofreading/editing. Look for someone whose work you admire.
¨ Tip for those new to critiquing: Be specific about what kind of feedback you are looking for! It’s okay to start slowly! And it’s okay to start with the positives as you get to know and trust each other!
¨ Organize readings for your writing group so that members can practice performing their work in front of others. Reading work out loud not only helps to improve it, the immediate feedback from a supportive audience helps you gain confidence. Once you’ve had some practice, organize a reading for the public!
¨ Enter contests, submit for publication, write and share, write and share, write and share.
¨ Oh, and read, read, read! A writer always reads.