It’s Dangerous to Go Alone: Connecting with Other Writers
I’ll be the first to say I don’t like people. I mean, that sounds bad. I like some people. I just don’t like meeting new people, mostly. It’s awkward, and I’m awkward, and then that makes them feel awkward, and really it’s just not a pleasant experience for anyone involved. The great thing about pursuing a career in writing is that, for a while, at least, you really don’t need to involve anyone else. I can sit in my office all by myself tapping away at my keyboard and I can produce a first draft, boom!
The problem is that, at some point, you are going to need to involve other people. For the craft, sure - you’re going to need critique partners, beta readers, and eventually an agent, editors, etc... But also for your sanity. Writing is a long and lonely game. It comes with a lot of rejection, waiting, and difficult decisions. All those things are way easier to deal with when you have someone to chat it out with. Even easier to deal with if that ‘someone’ understands the complicated web of the publishing system, and has experienced the trials and tribulations of writing a novel.
Now, some lucky folks have existing friends or family members who write. Awesome, lean on those relationships! But what if you don’t have those ready-made relationships waiting in the wings? Especially if you are a natural introvert, and/or have some level of social anxiety? Hi, hello, all of that is me to a T, and I’ve still managed to make some writer friends! Here are my tips for making friends in the writing community:
Twitter Is Your Friend: I know you have an internet connection - you’re reading this blog, aren’t you? So if you’re not already on Twitter, get on there! Are there toxic, shitty parts of Twitter? Absolutely - it’s social media. There are some trolls and assholes and other assorted nonsense, but there is also a super robust and supportive place called the #WritingCommunity. I have found beta readers through Twitter, made connections with other artists to collaborate on blog posts and podcasts (shout-out to my AZP friends!), and had just a general sounding board for my frustrations and successes in the writing world. I’m sure there are other writing communities on other social media platforms, but I found a great one on Twitter and stopped there.
Writing Conferences Rock: Alright, this one costs some money, but honestly, some of these conferences aren’t that expensive. I found a local one that was only a few miles from my house, and it was a couple hundred bucks, including the cost of some pricey in-person agent pitch slots I purchased (one of which got me an offer of representation - heyyoo, worth it). The great thing about a local conference is that some of the writers you’re meeting are bound to be local too! I met a fellow writer at that conference back in 2016 and long story short, I stood up in her wedding in 2019! After all, writer friends are real friends too.
Don’t Be Shy - Take Charge: This one is more of a general mindset than the other two, which are pretty practical tips, but it’s worth mentioning - especially if you’re like me and tend toward shyness. If you have an area of interest and see a gap in the community for that… go for it! I was browsing hashtags on Twitter to see if anyone had started one for writers debuting in 2021, and I didn’t find anything consistent. You know what I did find? Two other awesome writers debuting in 2021 looking for the same thing. So we made the hashtag. And a Facebook group. And an Instagram page. And a pretty active group chat. We created a community of our own, just by seeing the gap and being willing to fill it.
So there you have it - the introvert’s guide to making writer friends! If you want me to be one of your writer friends, find me on Twitter @mj_kuhn or on Facebook @mjkuhnbooks!