Everyone needs a support system – friends or family who have your back, and a safe space. Writers really benefit from people who “get” what they are about, and creatives in general crave supportive surroundings.
Find Your (Writing) Support System
This week, I and other members of the Herefordshire branch of The Society of Authors met for lunch in a local pub. The surroundings were great, the company was even better. Writing can be a lonely business. It’s good to know you’re not the only one struggling with the killer combination of work/life balance, characters, and plot. Meetings like this offer a safe space for the free exchange of views, as long as everyone understands
Rules? What Rules?
This lunch did three important things. It got us all out from behind our keyboards, we talked about our work and brainstormed our problems, and we all exchanged news and views (and not only about writing). Our meeting worked well as a safe space, because everyone understood that social gatherings like this should run on a combination of the rules of Chatham House, and Vegas. Chatham House rules mean that anything said at a meeting can be broadcast outside the group as long as no names are used, and all comments are anonymised. And we all know that what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas!
I’m very shy and suffer from terrible social anxiety. Hard though it was at the beginning, I’ve gained so much from belonging to writing groups that I’m glad I made the effort. Each meeting teaches me something new, and I can pass on what I’ve learned, too. If I can manage to take part in a group or association, so can you! Do your research before you join, as some groups are definitely more supportive than others. Every genre has it specialist group, so there’s something for everyone.
I’m a member of both The Society of Authors and The Romantic Novelists’ Association. Both associations over social occasions and learning opportunities. The RNA runs the New Writers’ Scheme, which provides feedback on the manuscripts of unpublished writers. That’s a support system particularly close to my heart, as I am one of its Readers.
Don’t keep your work to yourself. Let it breathe and expand by sharing it with your support system. When you are in the early stages of your writing life it can be difficult to show your work to friends and family. This is where entering competitions can help build your confidence, or getting feedback from a trusted source such as the New Writers’ Scheme (see above). As you advance in your writing career, Beta readers and editors can help and guide you.
I’m taking part in @NaNoWriMo at the moment, which has pushed me into writing more than twenty-nine thousand words so far this month! That’s a good percentage of my next novel, although those twenty-nine thousand words are in the form of a very rough first draft. I’ll have to have tidied up the opening paragraphs by 22nd November, as that’s when the next edition of my reader newsletter goes out. I’ve promised subscribers that I’ll include an extract for them to read. My project doesn’t have a name yet, so I’m offering my subscribers the chance to win a gift token for suggesting a title for the finished novel.