I am convinced that there is not a better support system in any field of work than that of the writing community. If there is I will be flat-out shocked, and I even challenge you to show me an example.
My experience in this community is one that is still in its infancy. While I am finishing up my graduate degree in English, and somehow attempting the herculean task of managing thesis-writing fatigue, while simultaneously writing my first novel, I have found myself at points of nearly collapsing under the pressures of both. I was advised by a colleague to start blogging as a way to decompress. He also suggested that it would be a good way for me to continue finding joy in writing. To me, the idea of pressure free composition appealing, so without much forethought, I plunged feet first into the endeavor and launched this blog and several social media accounts.
I had modest expectations. I thought that I would post some things as a means of mental health, and perhaps receive a few kind words or even a follower or two. What I didn’t expect was to stumble upon a fully fledged support system, one that held such valuable insight and companionship that I would severely doubt that I could continue writing with out it. Turns out that is exactly what I have found.
The response has been eye opening as much as it as been surprising. Not only have I received a tremendous amount of encouragement from my fellow Word-Pressers, but even more astoundingly, I have somehow reached over 1,600 supporters on Twitter in just 6 days. As overwhelming as the numbers have been though, the amount of friendships and connections I have made with both amateur and published writers stands out as as the most valuable part. That alone becomes a distinguishing factor that separates the writing community with any other field.
All I can say in response is I feel at home.
I am a highly motivated and success orientated person who probably puts too much emphasis on outcomes. This compels me to be rigid in my pursuit of professional goals. Some of my writing goals are to complete my novel and begin the query process, connect with an agent who believes in my vision and hard work, become a regular contributor to blogs or online sources, and above all else, to become better at my craft each day. These goals are something that I feel determined to accomplish. So determined, in fact, that they are just about the only thing that I can think of throughout my day-to-day life. As I am realizing though, despite how much more motivated to succeed that I think I am, I’m not the only one who feels this way. Actually other writers have goals too, ones that they are just as determined to reach. This is common in any field, but one thing that makes this community special is that although those writers are dedicated to personal achievement, they also make the time to lend advice, kind words, and even a helping hand to writers of various influence and experience levels. While this is unheard of in hyper competitive business markets, this support has become the norm. That type of mutual support only breeds more mutual support, which of course multiplies over and over. What’s left after all of the exponential growth is a living breathing support structure that not only shares the same deep passion for the written word, but also, promotes the hell out of those who who share said passion. It’s a beautiful display of true community, one that I sincerely wish our political landscape would attempt to replicate.
So, you may be wondering, “How do I join something like this?”
That’s easy. All you have to do is…
1. Simply be a Writer: As I’ve said countless times, being published is not the criteria for being a writer, not even in the slightest. Being a writer is not talking about writing, it’s not reading about writing, and it’s not even studying writing (don’t tell my professors I said that). Being a writer is nothing more and nothing less than, you guessed it, writing. If your learn this quickly you will not only continue to find personal success through proper self value, but you’ll also recognize value in those writers around you, even the ones that are just getting started. So, just write.
2. Understand that Networking Matters: In every type of business endeavor (yes, this even includes art) networking is important. Getting out there and getting to know people who are in your field (and who care about your field) makes a difference. More importantly than that though, making genuine connections with those who share your passion can lead to way better things than just twitter followers. For example, you may discover that the key to finishing that next great novel lies in the encouragement you receive from someone you meet via social media, or perhaps, you hear about the right literary agent based off a suggestion from a friend. Some people call this serendipity, but I would actually call it expected benefits of friendship in the writing community. So, to truly connect, make a good friends.
But that’s not all…
3. Don’t Just Make Good Friends, Be a Good Friend: Remember the golden rule, treat others how you want to be treated. This is perhaps the underlying principal of the writing community. If you need support, give support. If you want your work shared to the masses, be willing to share other writing pieces too. If you need someone to read your latest short story before you submit it, be willing to take the time to read other stories as well. It sounds simple right? It is simple in theory, but practicing it is not always easy. We are naturally self-centered creatures. The pin-point laser focus that helps us to find success with our written work can also hinder us from seeing the value in others. We view ourselves as worthy of promotion, yet, see very little worth in taking the time to promote others. This mindset is toxic, and the poison that comes from it can completely derail your writing career before it begins. This community is one that is built firmly upon a foundation of give and take. Those who give will receive in abundance (trust me and my explosion of twitter followers, as they were amassed by the support of fellow writers taking their time to help me), while those who only take will quickly stop receiving. The secret is no secret at all, just be kind, be helpful, and take the time to support a community that will return the favor.
If you are just getting started or even if you’ve been writing for years, there’s value in connecting with a community of people who share your passion. Your big break could be right around the corner, but you cannot make that your sole focus. Take the time to look for an opportunity to help other writer’s find their big break. More often than not, they will be so appreciative that their thank you will lead to far greater things than your personal drive alone.
When one of us wins we all win.