The first few weeks of my querying process were dominated by a major bout of internal radio silence.
No desire to write.
Not even an urge to pick up my pen.
Then, while I was on my morning walk, I asked my partner a question. What if…
The answer was intriguing, scary, and thankfully sticky.
Three days later, it popped in my head again. Except this what-if was accompanied by two characters who were interested in the same question.
The next day, I had two plot-related what-ifs.
So, I let my what-ifs build until one day I found myself writing chapter one.
Now I’m three thousand words into what looks like a new project.
What made the difference?
My connections with other people.
I have a partner who thankfully listens as I entertain story ideas.
A query buddy has been checking on me regularly and cheering me on.
I belong to a couple of writing groups filled with courageous writers who are also querying and submitting their work.
Late last week, writing coach Melanie Bishop sent me a link to a video of a baby laughing as her dad rips up a job rejection letter. A friend had sent it to her and suggested she watch it every time a rejection rolls in.
I triple dog dare you to watch this video with a straight face.
Were you able to do it?
As I reflected on my week, I realized the baby video was the tipping point. After watching it, I stop taking life so seriously and remembered that I write for the joy of telling a good story. That joy is available even in the querying silence. (Thank you, Melanie!)
So, I want to ask you the following questions:
- Who’s encouraging you to write?
- Who reads your work and celebrates its strengths?
- Who gives you feedback on your writing?
- Who inspires you to keep learning and perfecting your craft?
- Who do you run to when rejections arrive?
If you don’t like your answers, now is the perfect time to expand your list of connections.
Looking for a generative group?
Want to take a class? Here are a few suggestions:
Looking for a conference with workshop options?
While the application deadline for some of these has passed, be sure to add the following organizations to your list:
- Kenyon Review Writing Workshop
- Key West Literary Seminar
- Bread Loaf Writers Conference
- Sewanee Writers Conference
- Tin House Writers Conference
How about a conference?
AWP has a worldwide conference directory
Here are just a few of my favorites:
Want to find some writers online?
Here’s a list of Facebook groups you can join.
Need a hashtag to help you connect with writers on Twitter or Instagram?
Here you go.
Promise me you’ll take one step toward building a richer and more robust writing life.
If you want to learn how to work effectively with your new writing peers, join me tomorrow for Get Better Critiques Now: How to get the best feedback on your manuscript (and what to do with it).
Investing and nurturing your connections with other writers is an important part of your writing life. It’s one that will make uncertain times a little easier to bear.
Who knows? A conversation with a writing buddy, a moment of inspiration during a walk, or a funny video shared between friends might inspire you to begin a brand-new project.
And if this seems scary or awkward, do it anyway. Building a writing community is like eating your vegetables. You might not always like them, but they’re good for you.