Most images created in Book Brush using Pixabay photos. Many thanks to Julia Pattison for taking the image of me at my editing workshop at The Writers’ Summer School, Swanwick. Many thanks to Wendy H Jones for supplying the Writers’ Narrative image (which I’ve added text to). Screenshot taken by me, Allison Symes.
One of the joys of the writing community is it is supportive. Given most of the time you are at your desk, writing alone, having your fair share of rejections or not hearing back on competition entries and so on, that support is wonderful and vital. We all need a lift at times.
As well as writing events and conferences, which are fabulous ways to get to know other writers, there are a number of writing communities online. There are monthly groups which meet up in person such as the Hampshire Writers’ Society, which meets in Winchester.
I have learned so much from (a) courses and workshops I’ve attended and (b) from chatting to other writers, in person, and via online writing communities. No one writer can know it all and it was other writers who told me about the Society of Authors (I am a long standing member) and Writer Beware!
The latter is an American based website which flags up the rotten publishers and scammers out there. The website shares useful information as to the kind of behaviour which should raise red flags and that is appropriate world wide. Knowing the kinds of tricks scammers try to pull is useful (and they do this globally so sites like this are useful globally).
Getting to Know Other Authors
Something I had not expected when I started writing seriously, but which has since become a huge joy, is making author friends. Some I meet regularly on Zoom. Others I see annually at The Writers’ Summer School, Swanwick or at the Bridge House Publishing celebration event, which I am looking forward to going to again in December.
The vast majority I “correspond with” via Facebook and the like. Other authors have flagged up competitions of potential interest to me. I share information (especially through my posts here) which I know will be useful.
It has taken time to build up a network of authors but it is fun to do and mutually beneficial. No one writer can know all there is to know even in their own niche so the sharing of information is so important. There is also nothing like another author who will understand the joys of being published and the frustrations of setbacks. We’ve all been there (and continue to go there!). And we can support each other with things like blog tours. I’ll be talking more about this aspect with Val Penny for next week’s post.
Writing Magazines – online and in print
These are wonderful for (a) sharing useful advice and information, including markets and competitions and (b) encouraging a sense of being part of a wider writing world. Why? Because you know you won’t be the only one reading them!
My great joy when Writing Magazine hits my doormat every month is going through it and seeing how many names I recognise in the letters page, the competition entries, the groups news etc. It is a bad month if there are less than four names I know in there!
They can also be a great source of conversation starters when you do meet up with other authors as we share news of which articles we found useful or point out to, say, a novelist an article we thought they might find handy.
I am now a copy editor and regular contributor to Writers’ Narrative, which is an online writing magazine. There is a theme for each month. The idea behind this magazine is it is written by writers for writers and there will be information which is useful to most. We know the kinds of hints and tips we find useful ourselves so these go into our articles. You can subscribe for free here
I am part of a few online communities on Facebook (in particular) but I deliberately limit how many I join. I want to follow the few I do join in with regularly and to add useful comments to threads of conversation. You can’t follow everyone. Nor would you wish to but it is a case of choosing the right group which suits your writing and where you are at on your own writing journey.
Social media is called that because it is meant to be sociable so I look to support other writers online (often done via helpful comments on topics where people are asking about aspects of writing). The other positive here is word of writing scams and who are behind them often comes out in these kinds of groups. This is useful for obvious reasons and I’ve joined in a few conversations in my time highlighting vanity publishers etc.
People come into writing at different stages so there will always be a need for advice for newbie writers, warnings against the scammers etc and the online writing communities are the best places to share this kind of information. Zoom has made writing events more accessible too.
Yes, it does take to join in with the writing community and I could spend that time writing more. But I would be writing in isolation, I would miss out on invaluable advice and warnings etc. Many writers have shared with me news of competitions they think might suit me. Sometimes I have followed up on these.
My recent story, The Natural Look, broadcast by Hannah Kate on North Manchester FM, came about because someone I know highlighted the fact Hannah was looking for autumn themed tales.
I see time spent engaged with other writers (and readers) as being the other side to the writing coin. As well as writing, I need to know what is going on “out there” and to stay aware of the world I am part of here. It’s also great fun and I’m so grateful for the friends I’ve made.
The rewards from writing are creative fulfilment and things like this. And yes, developing my career and earning more from writing, are ongoing goals. Most writers I know do see themselves as being on a writing journey. Well, you can have companions on a road parallel to yours. Nobody says you have to travel alone.
You do get in what you pay out for here. I believe in paying it forward and back and sharing useful thoughts and tips via online writing groups is a nice, and easy, way to do this. Often I have found advice which wasn’t especially for me when I first heard it does come in useful later on.
Read blog posts by Allison Symes published on Chandler’s Ford Today.
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