Writing is, at its core, a solitary pursuit. When asked to envision a writer, you probably picture someone sitting alone at a laptop (or even a typewriter), spilling their story onto the page.
When I first started writing seriously as an adult, I worked alone for years, with the exception of a local NaNoWriMo group. But even then, it was in many ways a lonely venture. We’d go to write-ins in November and commiserate over our shared misery, but when it came to the story itself, I was on my own. And the rest of the year, I was left adrift.
From 2006 through 2015, for the most part I wrote in my own bubble, penning novels and editing them by myself.
In November of 2015, I started the draft that would become Cambiare. I spent the next couple of years revising it mostly by myself, though one friend did read it and offer their thoughts.
In 2017 or so, I sent it off to early betas. Most ghosted me. The one that responded left a scathing report on how terrible it was. But underneath the vitriol, there were a few good points. I cried, quit writing for a couple months, then came back and made changes based on those notes.
Then I joined Twitter. I found other writers, including CPs from a few matchmaking events like #CPMatch. Over the next year, I sent my precious baby off to others to be ripped apart (sometimes quite politely torn to shreds, but still soundly critiqued).
Each time I got feedback, I became a better writer. I learned more in the first year of sending Cambiare to betas and rewriting it than I had in a decade of working alone. They showed me my writing crutches, helped me with plot holes, and taught me a myriad of things about craft. Another weird thing happened, too… helping critique others’ work made me realize some of the mistakes I’d been making in my own work.
In 2018, I joined a NaNoWriMo competitive group event on Twitter. It seemed like a fun way to add some flavor to November and a challenge that had become a bit samey after thirteen years. I was matched up with other writers as a NaNoWriMo team.
And I found my squad. Everyone brought something different to the table from a craft perspective, and we chatted regularly about everything from general life events to writing woes.
Most importantly, even more crucial than the craft advice and critiques and making my work better, I found people who understood. When I wanted to throw my book into a dumpster and light it on fire, they were there to talk me down. If I needed to rant about how much I hated a side character, they listened and offered suggestions.
It’s a very lonely feeling having a breakdown over your book without anyone to complain with. But getting to vent with people who know exactly what it’s like to have such a weird love/hate relationship with this difficult thing called writing? Is priceless.
This is all a long, rambly way of saying: Go find your people. Your squad. Your ride-or-die writing buddies.
Honestly, it’s that same strange alchemy as any relationship. Some people you meet will work out, some won’t. But you can’t meet anyone at all if you don’t put yourself out there.
- Join local writing groups or authors associations if you got ’em. (Libraries or indie bookshops are great places to find out if there’s one in your area!)
- Also see if there are any conferences nearby, if you can afford them. These can be pricey depending on the conference, but are also a great place to meet writing buddies in addition to their wealth of info on writing craft and publishing.
- Participate in contests like Pitch Wars and get to know people on the forums there.
- Check out #CPMatch on Twitter.
- Or the Writers Helping Writers Group on Facebook.
- Keep an eye on tags like #writersofinstagram over there, if Instagram is your stomping grounds.
Be active in the writing community wherever you socialize online, be it Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. Eventually, you will be drawn to your crew. It took me a couple of years joining events and groups before I found mine, but they will save your writing life.