Writers in the Storm

A blog about writing

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March 6, 2015

The Social Writer: Ways to Engage Without Living Online

Janice Hardy

I love the online world just as much as the next person, but writers already spend so much time alone--it's good to get out into the sunshine once in a while. There's a different energy you get from having a physical in-person conversation versus typing a conversation online, and that energy can be, well, energizing to the creative process.

Here are a few options for getting out of your writing cave and interacting with other writers:

  1. Write-Ins (They're Not Just For NaNo)

Many local writers' groups hold regular write-ins at coffee shops and libraries. The goal is to write, but there's also a social aspect as people catch up and share ideas, or ask questions if they get stuck on a scene. It's like having an office with fellow writer co-workers.

If you're not sure where to find a local group, the NaNo web site is a great resource. It lets you know what groups are near you, and many of the groups have blogs or Facebook pages where you can learn more information. You might also ask your favorite coffee shop or local library if any groups meet there.

  1. Regional Chapters of National Writing Organizations

The big organizations, such as Romance Writers of America, Mystery Writers of America, and the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, have local chapters in a multitude of regions. These groups are full of local writers with a variety of skill levels, so there's bound to be people at the same stage you're at in your career.

Even better, these groups hold smaller events and meetings throughout the year, so there's something going on every month or two. You can find the local chapters listed on the main websites of the national groups, or if you don't write genre, look for a state-wide group (or do both!). Since these groups are always looking for new members, they're usually very welcoming to newcomers and first-timers.

  1. Local Writers' Conferences

Most regional chapters of larger organizations hold their own conferences every year, and some larger writing groups even host conferences. These are typically less expensive, smaller (and less intimidating), and more conveniently located than the big national conferences. Networking is a big part of a conference, so there are usually several events for attendees to mix and mingle.

Speaking of local, smaller conferences, here one coming up in my region...

Springmingle banner graphic

If you're a kidlit writer in the Georgia area, the Springmingle '15 Writers' and Illustrators' Conference will take place on March 13-15, 2015 in Decatur, GA. Meet editors and agents from industry-leading agencies and publishing houses—and the friendliest, most supportive colleagues one could ever hope to find. Attendees will find nearly a dozen workshop sessions, including: 101+ Reasons for Rejection, Writing La Vida Loca, and Traditional Picture Books in a Digital Age. Visit their website for a complete listing of workshops (just click on the hyperlink, above). Presented by SCBWI/Southern Breeze Region.

  1. National Writers' Conferences

If you're looking for a high-octane experience, try the national conferences. There's an amazing energy in the air when you're surrounded by thousands of other writers, and even if you attend alone, you know you can strike up a conversation with anyone by asking, "So, what do you write?" There are always a few places where attendees gather to socialize (usually the bar or lobby area), and it's common to have people join random groups when they see free seats and welcoming smiles.

Extra tip: Volunteering to help out at a conference is a fun and rewarding way to meet other writers and become familiar with the writers' groups in your area.

  1. Author Events

Authors do events all the time, so check with your local bookstores and libraries to see what's coming up in your area. Meeting people who love to read (or write) the same things you do is a fun way to socialize, and remind you who your readers (or potential future readers) are.

I know a lot of writers are shy, so if the thought of doing any of these things terrifies you, by all means stay home and chat online. You certainly don't need the stress of socializing if that's hard for you. But if you like the idea of meeting people who share your love of books and writing, then head on out and see what the writing world has to offer.

Where do you like to socialize with fellow writers?


PYN_Ideas and Structure Cover.inddLooking for tips on planning your novel? Check out my book Planning Your Novel: Ideas and Structure, a series of self-guided workshops that help you turn your idea into a novel. It's also a great guide for revisions! 

Janice Hardy RGB 72Janice Hardy is the founder of Fiction University, and the author of the teen fantasy trilogy The Healing Wars, where she tapped into her own dark side to create a world where healing was dangerous, and those with the best intentions often made the worst choices. Her novels include The Shifter, (Picked as one of the 10 Books All Young Georgians Should Read, 2014) Blue Fire, and Darkfall from Balzer+Bray/Harper Collins. The first book in her Foundations of Fiction series, Planning Your Novel: Ideas and Structure is out now. She is also a contributor at Pub(lishing) Crawl, and Writers in the Storm.

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27 comments on “The Social Writer: Ways to Engage Without Living Online”

    1. If you belong to any organizations, checks to see if they have one. I know we've been discussing setting something like up with Southern Breeze, and I imagine other groups are doing the same. It's a great idea and a great way for members to help each other.

  1. Good morning, Janice. This is a very interesting post, since what we are always being told is to "network" on-line. I liked a couple of your ideas. I do the local writer thing and started a crit group. There are two women there who belong to other groups. Maybe we can organize something like you suggest. I will also check out NaNo ...

    BTW ... I love Fiction University 🙂

    1. Thanks! I think so much focus in on what to do online, we forget that there's a whole offline world as well. Authors have a lot of options these days.

  2. What great ideas, Janice! I have a lot of write-ins with friends--usually just one or two of us at a time--and they really help us keep going even when we're stuck on our manuscripts--maybe even especially then. Thanks for the other tips here.

    1. I've found the write-ins extremely productive, and I never would have expected that. Good to try new things once in a while, even if we think they won't do any good. I've been surprised many a time that way.

  3. Great post, Janice!
    I'm definitely one of those who is more comfortable in social media socializing for a number of reasons - troll in the cave syndrome is high up there, but also lack of time is huge for me. However, very time I've gone to an author event or a local writing conference/retreat I've walked away energized from being around other writers.

    1. Even if that's all you use events for--to recharge--they're till valuable. Sharing ideas is such a vital part of the creative process, and face to face is sometimes the best way to do that.

  4. Great post Janice! It's true, writers tend to hole up so much than online interactions can be the only ones we have with other writers. I have a great group of ladies that meet up once a week and I haven't gone in ages (because of snow, and life in general) but this post makes me want to see them again soon! It's so nice to be around people who understand.

  5. Next clear day, totally go 🙂 Even if it's only once a month instead of once a week, it'll probably keep you motivated and energized about your writing.

  6. Janice, as an extrovert, I've never struggled with this - in fact, I'm having the opposite problem! I moved from a vibrant writing community in So Cal last year, to Texas, where the closest RWA Chapter is 350 miles away! I went through withdrawal.

    Luckily, I have great friends online, and this year, I'm attending three conference/writer events. I'm considering running for the RWA National Board next year, to connect, and to give back.

    By the way, I'm working my way through my next book, and since I don't do the 'P' word (pppppplot), your book , Planning Your Novel, is really helping me. It's for pantsers, too!

    I highly recommend the book.

    1. I'm an extrovert, too, so I know what you mean. That stinks that the groups are so far away. Maybe there's a general writing group closer?

      Oh good! I'm so glad PYN is helping a panster 🙂 I'd hoped it would be accessible to both sides of the P-coin.

    1. Vicky, much as I'd love to see you every month, if the mosquitoes didn't kill me, the humidity would!

      But at least I get to see you in 3 weeks! I owe you a drink!

  7. Janice, always great info! I was fortunate to connect with RWA and my local chapter. There are also virtual chapters w/in RWA that help to connect writers, too. It really helps to know others are out there working away at their craft! For those outside the romance genre, I'm sure there are similar groups. And, for those who don't know your AWESOME work at Fiction University--shame on them! They need to get enlightened! Your current month-long course is awesom.

    1. Aw, thanks so much! RWA seems to be the biggest and most active (you romance writers are a busy bunch), but even in my smallish town there are several groups. Sometimes they just take a little hunting to find.

    1. Most welcome, hope you find one. You'd probably see them more frequently around NaNo months (April, July, Nov I think), but mine meets every week even during non-NaNo months.

  8. I'd much rather socialize face-to-face than online, Janice, so I appreciate the extra ideas. I'm with Deb--a write in sounds like a fun idea. Laura and I have done that with just the two of us.

    1. They're a lot of fun. Our organizer does the writing sprints (when you race to get as much done in X amount of time) and those are a blast. I was shocked at how much I wrote in 30 minutes (just over 900 words) when pushed. It really helped me get my average word count up since I realized I could write faster with a little extra focus 🙂 And not sacrifice quality!

  9. I'm the typical introvert, I can spend days writing without going out and to make matters worse I live in Ottawa Canada. In the winter, i use the excuse the cold keeps me home and with temperatures plummeting to -35 not a bad excuse 🙂 As it happens social media is not my favourite thing, I prefer face-to-face, so I organize writing groups and get involved which makes me get out. I have to say social media is great for introverts who have difficulty marketing their books, it also makes it easier, by building momentum, to get out to signings etc. Janice thanks for yet another great article.

    1. Ooo, it would be hard to get out and about way up there 🙂 That's great that you organize groups and get yourself out. It's all about finding what works, and doing what you're comfortable with.

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