Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Care and Feeding of the Writer's Soul

I have been thinking about this a lot the last few weeks, interaction for writers with other writers. Could be called writer socialization. Those of us who have pursued a life of making up worlds find out that we are in a world of our own- literally. So we reach out to others of our own kind, eager for knowledge of the skills we need, camaraderie for folks who understand what we’re going through, reinforcement that we are charging in the right direction.

Now there are many ways for authors to obtain this community. We can join writer’s groups, crit groups, take classes, go to conferences, haunt blogs and websites.

But how do we know we are getting the right feedback? Just because some author is lecturing or conducting an online workshop doesn’t mean they know how to teach.
Even if they are a published author.
YES- even if they are published.

Not all people who can do a skill, and do it very well, can instruct, coach, or mentor others. Yet for many writers as soon as we see “published author” (or agent or editor) we immediately jump all over the class, conference, workshop etc. Some folks joke about their addiction to classes. We constantly search for help, feedback, reassurance. But is that what we are only looking for?

I have respect for the addicted and if there were more “in person” writing workshops/conferences that I could afford- I would probably be one of the afflicted. But for me at least online workshops don’t seem to work. Could be my tired old 40 something brain needs a real person in front of me to charge me up. Maybe I just can’t focus enough for the online options. Now, this could be good because I LOVE being around other writers so if I were more into the online classes I could end up in serious trouble.

Which leads to another question- is it the information/ skills/ etc that we crave or just the socialization with folks of our “kind”? I have recently joined my local RWA chapter and I’ve found (although ALL of the meetings have been great) it’s more of being around other writers. The energy that comes from the meeting is what gets me going. I attended one meeting where it was about YA- I came away just as charged as I would have been if it had been a field I write.

Comic Con does this as well- and then not just around writers- it’s the creative energy that floods the convention. The power that is emanated by folks creating works of art (of various sorts) is addicting.

So in answer to my own questions- I think writers NEED to be around other writers- both of our genre and even not in our genre (I have picked up lots from screenwriters at various conferences- and trust me I have no intention of being a screenwriter ;)). We need the power of being around other creative souls.
What do you think?


  1. I agree!!! I always feel inspired after leaving a gathering of writers! :)

    Even when they don't write the type of fiction I do... Knowing you're among people sharing the same types of experiences defintiely helps me keep moving forward...

    Peer pressure doesn't hurt either! LOL

    Lisa :)

  2. I'm in complete agreement with you. Our weekly chapter meeting's draw for me is the socialization. Writers get other writers. We also have a grasp on each other's journey to be a writer, what it takes, and the degree of lack of fame. The non-writer might gush and be a little star struck when they find out we're writers. Other writers aren't. We know what award-winning means. Hey, I'm and award winning writer and I'm still not published.

    I love writer talk and brainstorming. I love being excited by new ideas.

    As far as the 40 something brain goes. I like to think of it as having a highly effective filter that weeds out unnecessary information before it bogs us down. I'm not a big online workshop person either anymore. I need live talk.

    Great post and very thought provoking.


  3. Great blog post! I agree - there is something about the understanding from other writers who well...get it.

    And - 40 is the new 20. Whatever the heck that means. :)

  4. Thanks ladies!

    Lisa- yeah you're the reason I'm even IN RWASD!! (Peer pressure folks- it works! ;))

    Boone-Excellent observations. As for that 40-filter...maybe that's it- my filter is set to high and nothing gets in-LOL!!!

    Rebecca- HEH!!! Cool! I wanna be 20- ok, not really, but I'd like to look and feel 20, but have the knowledge I do now ;).