Guest Blog by Erick Mertz
One of the most difficult things for writers to achieve is that sense of community. Yet, regardless of what “level” your writing practice may be, professional ghostwriter or newcomer, finding your tribe is critical to success.
Sure, writers are by nature solitary creatures. Often we write in quiet rooms with the door closed. If we’re lucky, our loved ones will give us that necessary time, explaining to friends and family that, well, it’s just what they do.
It’s OK. They’re happy in there.
As writers, sure, we’re happy to have that solitude. It is a necessary element in the process of creating narrative art. Perhaps only the muffled din of a coffee shop can rival silence for the writer at work.
But as much as we require solitude while in the process of writing, creating a community with other writers is critical. Solitude gets that good writing down on the page, but a vibrant community, helps get the page out to the world.
Modern networking has allowed our sense of community to evolve beyond “in person” scenarios. Sure, in person handshakes are a part of it (and we’ll go into that in just a bit) but writers are no longer forced to mingle, body to body with their fellow scribes in stuffy hotels.
Here are three ways to effectively network with other writers.
Social media is a part of our lives, for better or worse. Logging into your Facebook or Instagram profile the most time efficient way to keep up with your Uncle in Austin who ties flies, as well as your close-but-not-too-close friends and how they’re getting by as members of their local PTA.
More and more, however, Facebook Groups are becoming the preferred way to network on the world’s biggest social media platform. These groups are great because they are laser focused on a single topic and, unlike the basic platform, are governed by administrators who make sure content stays on topic.
Tired of the political morass on your feed? Then joining a Facebook group around your specific writer niche is the way to go.
Also, what defines a “niche” is fairly broad. Just for me personally, I’m part of groups geared toward the professional ghostwriter, local feature writers, as well as my unique brand of paranormal mystery fiction.
If you can dream it up, there is probably a group in there for you.
This may sound too obvious to believe, but it bears mentioning here. Writers and authors have websites or Facebook pages. On their sites are contact forms or buttons to send emails.
If you like someone’s writing or have something in common in the terms of subject matter, contact them. Send an email. Fill out the form. I’m amazed at how many times I meet people in person and they tell me they were on my site and they shyly defer, saying they weren’t sure about sending an email.
Send the email… Writers may be (largely) introverted, but that just means that they are probably sitting there, on the other side of the computer, waiting for an email to come through. So many of my professional and personal writing connections have come from simply sending a cold email. Many of the companies I work with as a ghostwriter, as well as colleagues in the mystery-writing world, all came by reaching out.
Direct contact has always worked and will continue to for the rest of time. Regardless of how big and nuanced the digital wall becomes, people are always going to feel good about someone reaching out to say hello.
All right, you caught me.
I know, I know, I started this blog out by saying you didn’t have to go out and rub elbows. And you don’t, I promise…
But, if you’re feeling up to really going for it, I highly recommend the writer’s conference experience.
People tell me I’m an extrovert – I’m not. But when I get around a room full of writers, another side of me comes to life.
Other writers are, for me, a genuine source of inspiration. Everyone has a unique project they’re working on and are passionate about taking to another level. In that, you automatically have something in common.
I could write another half-dozen blogs (and have on my website) but I firmly believe that the writer’s conference experience is a little slice of heaven. There is nowhere better I can think of to go and eat mediocre hotel catering, catch classes on niche topics in your specific medium and meet other writers.
What makes the writers conference environment so helpful for me is that you get a chance to see writers of all stripes. You meet everyone from those just starting out, all the way up to authors at the top of their game.
It assures you of where you are and gives you something to aspire to.
Most importantly though, you get to meet a lot of very cool people. By the end of the weekend, my pockets are always stuffed with business cards of new contacts, connections and friends.
And, yes, at the end of it all, I get to close the door all over again.
Erick Mertz is a ghostwriter and editor living in Portland, Oregon. When he is not writing manuscripts for other clients, he enjoys cooking, spending time with his family and writing the paranormal mystery series, The Strange Air.