In terms of writing, 2018 was a very very unproductive year for me. 2017, I completed a first draft for two different novels. I didn’t get them published, but that’s another story. And I was writing for a local nonprofit and doing social media work for a second.
And in 2018 I did…nothing, nada, zero, zilch. In other words I didn’t do a damn thing.
When 2018 came to an end I had to sit back and really reflect on why the year had been so…blah. What changed between 2017 and 2018? What was the reason I managed to complete the tasks I set for myself one year and not the next? The answer was simple and I don’t know why it took me so long to figure it out. But I did. And I did not realize the reason until I attended the Agile Writers Conference last weekend. You see I wasn’t getting anything done last year because I wasn’t with my family.
MY “WRITE” FAMILY.
You see, the difference between 2017 and 2018 is that one year I was actively involved with my writing group. I attended meetings. I kept in touch with my critique partners and other group members through email. I was surrounded by people that was there to push, motivate, and remind me of my dreams. And all of that stopped in 2018. I found myself too busy with work, the kids, bills,dr appointments, grocery shopping, and…Netflix. I kept telling myself that I would attend the meeting the next week. But the next week never came.
Attending that conference and our groups Chrisgmas party back in December, I was reminded of why that group of people is so damn important to me . I was also reminded of what I had lost by not attending. The Agile Writers are my “write” family and here are a few reasons why EVERY writer for 2019 needs to find theirs.
At the beginning of every Agile Writer meeting we go around the table and each member tells what they accomplished with their writing the past week. I honestly think that this is one of the only reasons I finished the draft of my novel, Serenity’s Prayer. When there was a week that I hadn’twritten. I hated it. To sit there and listen to what everyone else had done that week, despite work schedules, children, spouses, and every othet excuse that I had. I would feel terrible. And even a little ashamed. That feeling motivated me to do better the next week and each week that I wrote brought me closer to the finish line.
The Christmas party was no exception. At the start of the party we went around the table and everyone talked about what they were working on or had fnished working on, and I realized that many of fellow members had not been idly wasting time as I had. I learned that —
- A member had a poem published.
- A member had a proposal accepted for a sculpture
- Two members have come together and created their own business — Better Beta Readers http://www.betterbetareaders.com
These are only a few of the accomplishments of my fellow members.
But that was not my only motivation. I also found motivation from my critique group to keep going when I got stuck on a scene or chapter. They motivated me to work on my weaknesses and turn them into strengths. They were my cheerleaders all the way to the end.
Most of the people that I associate with can not figure out why in the world I would spend my entire Saturday at a conference. And a writing conference at that. I was asked, “So what did you do all day? Just sit around and talk about books?” With a look of disbelief on her first.
My response, “Yes. That’s exactly right. We talked about books all day ”
However, we did so much more than “just talk about books all day” Unfortunately, family and friends who aren’t writers or book lovers dont really understand why we love what we love. Why we spend hours staring at a blank page. Why we agonize over characters that are figments of our imagination. And we sometimes prefer the world’s in our head over reality.
But other writers understand all of the above and more. It helps to be around people that understand and get you.
Networking is important. I repeat NETWORKING IS IMPORTANT!
Networking can lead to new friendships, business partners, new ideas, and so much more. One of my most valuable experiences with the Agile Writers is the annual conference. For the past 3 years I have volunteered at the Agile Writer Conference and every year I walk away with business cards and new contacts. There arespeakers that I met at the first conference and have been interacting with ever since.
In a world where how far you get often depends on who you know, networking is A MUST.
Last weekend, a few my group members and I were discussing our shared lack if attendance to the meetings over the past year. And each if us agreed that we got a lot more writing done when we were active members of the group. Primary reason being the weekly deadline. Each week we knee that at least 2 other people were waiting on our pages and so each week we knew if we didn’t write we would be disappointing our partners.
There’s nothing a writer loves more than hearing how great there story is. A writer also needs to hear when their story…stinks. When I was writing Serenity Prayer’s, each week I was able to bounce ideas off my partners and hear their thoughts on how the story was progressing. It saves valuable time to have problems pointed out before you get all the way to THE END. And any positive feedback you receive is more encouragement to keep going and push through to the end.
Now, I am not saying that if you want to be a writer you need to go out and join the first writing group you see. However, I do believe that you should make sure that you have a writing community behind you. A “write” family to be by your side as you wade through the murky waters that is writing. Your family doesn’t have to be big. To be honest, in today’s world your family doesn’t even have to be on the same side of the country as you. Big, small, in person, or online, it doesn’t matter just as long as you have someone in your corner to support you; someone who doesn’t consider your hobby to be strange or a waste of time.
So, if you don’t have one already, get out there, make some friends, join a club, or a Facebook group. Just make sure that this year, you find your WRITE FAMILY.