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.

Wordsmith Wednesday–Kindling Creativity

The flame of wisdom

Image via Wikipedia

Many of us experience creative slumps, but I do believe that there are steps we can take to invite the muse back into our writing lives. Here are just a few remedies that have helped me in the past:

  • Brainstorm with a friend, or alone if you prefer. This is especially effective if you are writing fiction and the story line has come grinding to a halt. If you participate in an on-line community, you may discover inspiration with the help of one of your blogging buddies.
  • Switch genres. Move outside your comfort zone and write a brief poem, short story or an article…whichever you don’t write on an ordinary basis.
  • Go back to a piece of writing that you previously abandoned and revise/edit/resuscitate.,
  • Take a break. Go for a walk in nature, browse a museum or art gallery, a thrift store or garage sale. You will find a wealth of subject matter to explore.
  • Choose random words from a dictionary or book and use them as in a paragraph, poem or flash fiction.   Allow your subconscious to do the choosing. You will be surprised to find that a theme often emerges.
  • Put your manuscript aside and take a break from writing for a day or two, or longer. But set a deadline to return.
  • If you write poetry, try a form that is new to you, or free verse if you usually write form poetry.
  • Maintain a daily writing journal and every evening jot down a few details of things you’ve observed, tidbits of conversations you’ve had or overheard, events that took place. When you’re stuck, go digging in your collected musings for something that ignites a spark.
  • Keep a file of work that you’ve edited out of previous manuscript or poems. Go back, select one and use it as a launch pad for an entirely new project.

I hope you find something in this to jump-start your writing if and when it stalls. Would you do me a favor? If you have suggestions or technique  that help you, would you share it in comments?

Thank you as always for visiting my blog.