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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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...
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.
- 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.
- 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?
Looking 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 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.