Monday Meanderings–Writers Helping Writers


There is a saying I heard when I was nursing—something about nurses devouring their young. And, unfortunately, I saw it all too often. New grads would hire on, idealistic and full of enthusiasm, only to find not only a lack of support, but sometimes a subtle sabotage that made their incorporation into the world of healthcare both disappointing and fraught with the potential for failure.

Photo: Dawn McKay

Photo: Dawn McKay

Why? Were those older nurses who held diplomas rather than a BSN threatened? Perhaps. Although I found more often (and zeroed in on this for my thesis in graduate school) that nurses often come from dysfunctional/addicted family backgrounds (read: born caregivers) and replicate the behaviors of their family of origin in the work place. I suppose the same applies to many other professions as well.

Writing, full-time or on the fly, is essentially a lonely profession. Sure, some of us might drag those laptops into a coffee shop or library. But to really write, most of the time we must wrap a little bubble around ourselves and hole in.

I have found, however, that I need other writers. I need their friendship, their feedback, their encouragement and their ideas. I need their “Congratulations” when I have a success, and their
“Don’t give up,” when the rejections pour in. Sometimes I need a kick in the butt when I’m feeling sorry for myself, or a pat on the back when I bring the umpteenth hundred revision to the table.

So how can we reach out to one another? What can we do to help one another become better and happier writers? I’m going to toss out a few things that help me (or have helped me in the past). And then I’m inviting you to add your suggestions in the comments, if you would.

♥ Join a writing group—writers who meet (in person or on-line)on a regular basis to read and critique manuscripts, share ideas and maybe a glass of wine, talk about projects, celebrate success. Each group is structured by the members to achieve their goals—a subject for a future post.

Photo Edits: bkedits

Photo Credit: bkedits

♥Visit writing blogs (based on your genre), read and comment. Join blogging communities that share your interests; participate in prompts, or offer your own prompts.
♥Recommend good books, authors, periodicals, websites or blogs. Share your finds with your writing friends, whether these sources are about the art of writing or, perhaps, a novel with exceptional writing that will inspire.
♥Attend book-signings, buy one another’s work, write on-line reviews, host an on-line or local book launches; interview a newly-published author on your blog.

Photo: David Slotto

Photo: David Slotto

♥Suggest agents that you run across in your searches if they are a fit for your writing buddy, or refer them to your own agent.
♥Share your personal marketing successes and disappointments. Don’t let your writing friends make the same mistakes you did, or miss opportunities that could give them an added boost.

The nursing profession has evolved, I hope. New grads are assigned long-term mentors to help them achieve their goals. Why would anyone want to see a newbie fail and even leave nursing when there is such a shortage?

True, there is no shortage of wanna-be writers, but with the advent of so many new publishing platforms, there are options for all of us to get our work out there, if that’s our goal. And there’s the satisfaction of just helping each other to write well, to improve our craft and to enjoy the process of putting pen to paper.

How have you reached out to other writers? What kind of support have you found most valuable? I hope you will add your ideas to the comments. Thanks for joining. Have a happy productive week of writing.

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10 thoughts on “Monday Meanderings–Writers Helping Writers

  1. Jamie Dedes says:

    Execellent: Well considered, kind and encouraging. Wise, in a word.

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  2. You are so right. We need to support each other! All of the suggestions you provided are great ones. I’ve tried them all (except for the agent one because I don’t have an agent!). I love to do author interviews on my blog and give author interviews. Critiquing books is great, too.

    My community doesn’t have a writing group and I found online writing groups less than satisfying because I seemed to put in way more time and effort critiquing other writers’ work than they ever did mine. Plus, I wanted substantive feedback on the quality of my writing and most others wanted whatever it took to get them published. Maybe I was just in the wrong groups. Plus, blogging, writing, and living my life take up as much time as I have to give at this point!

    Nice post, Victoria! You’re such a lovely person and great writer. 🙂

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  3. janehewey says:

    There is some super helpful information here, Victoria. Your tip about attending book signings sounds like something I will do and had never thought of. Thanks for thinking of new writers. I love your comparison to the nursing world and the long term mentoring program you mentioned.

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  4. Pamela says:

    Victoria, I would love to have a critique group. It is difficult or should I say impossible to do that living here though. There are workshops, but they are in Spanish and I don’t, can’t write poetry in any language except English. I learn by reading other people and there are quite a few I admire on the blogosphere. I find most people very supportive. Interesting topic.

    Pamela

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  5. brian miller says:

    some solid wisdom here vic. we learn from others for sure.
    i learn a lot just in reading others…seeing style points i like…and i firmly believe in writing groups…that is a whole other animal though…it take time to develop as there is trust that has to be earned and a structure that needs to be in place…it takes setting your ego aside to give crit and to receive it…a lot of people would love crit but dont feel comfortable giving it…it is a risk and chances are you will offend someone but i dont want a crit partner that wont tell me when my shit stinks…it has to be a mutual understanding…

    i was in a crit group once online…smaller, about 8 of us…and it was good for a season…i got torn apart and put back together many a time over…i grew out of that group though as it eventually tipped the balance into toxic after about a year because the ego crept back in for a few….

    its humbling…now obviously, i crit with claudia…we have been doing it for years and i think we are comfortable enough to tell each other when we dont like it, what we do like, make suggestions on wordings, cuttings–i have had to restart pieces from scratch and thats ok…i still appreciate her telling me…

    and i think you have to know too that there are times people wont take your crit…and that is okay too…i did not waste my time in giving it…i cant feel that way…i cant own it like that…

    this is part of the reason i dont think solid crit can happen in the public arena of blogging…too many people uncomfortable being honest and hurting someones feelings leads to very shallow crit if any…when we tried it before we had a bunch of people that wanted it but were unwilling to invest in the lives of others…

    cool convo ma’am

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    • I agree with most of this. When I was part of an online group I never felt adequate to critique although I appreciated being the recipient. I like the idea having a critique buddy, such as you and Claudia have found to be effective, especially someone who’s style is in sync with yours. I think one of the most important thing about critique is knowing when to take it and when to leave it. If you listen to everyone, you can lose your own voice. I plan on doing a post just on writing groups in the future. Have had both good and bad experiences with them. Thanks for what you bring to the table, Bri.

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      • Mary says:

        I definitely agree about knowing when to take it and when to leave it. If a person takes all suggestions, it is so easy to lose one’s own voice.

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  6. Mary says:

    I was part of an online writing group, meeting weekly online, for perhaps 13 years, and we met 3 – 4 times specifically to have our ‘real life writing workshop time’ as well. There was a time when I was part of a real life writing group, and I wish I would have one now. Being part of the poetry blogosphere is inspiring to me. I think if one wants, one can find one’s niche. But it is not a place for critique, I don’t think. But one can learn from other writers & see what works and what doesn’t (for you) in another’s work. I would welcome a serious writers’ group again….but people involved should all share the same ideas about critique or I don’t think it works well. Interesting question, Victoria.

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  7. annotating60 says:

    I’ll come back later to write something.>KB

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