Rx for Writer’s Loneliness: Join a Writer’s Organization

Writing can be a very lonely process. Just you and that blank piece of paper. It doesn’t matter if it’s actual paper or virtual paper. You work and you toil and you think and you create and finally you finish your magnum opus. Then you revise, polish, revise again, polish some more and there it is! Your finished manuscript! So now you want someone (like me) to wave my magic wand and voila! You’re published. WAKE UP!!! It just ain’t gonna happen that way. I mean maybe it will, but most probably not.

So what should you do? How can you increase your chances of 1. finding an agent; 2. getting your manuscript published, and 3. being a great writer?

Let’s start with #3. I know you may not want to hear this, but just because you’ve written a whole manuscript (which, by the way, is an amazing thing!) doesn’t mean it should or will get published. You don’t actually have an objective opinion about your own work, so you don’t even know if it’s any good. (Stop that. You really don’t.) How can you get an objective opinion of your work? Well, don’t give it to your friends or family, because not only won’t they know what’s good and what’s not, they are also not objective. I promise you. As soon as they start reading, knowing it’s your work, they will think it’s great. Even if it sucks. So you can’t count on them to provide you with good feedback in order to improve your work.

So here’s what you want to do: Join something. Take a writing class, if you can. Join a critique group. Or, best of all, join a writing organization where you can meet other like-minded people. Personally, I’m a member of the New York chapter of the Women’s National Book Association (the original WNBA!). Below is a list of writing organizations (in no particular order). Find one that suits you and your writing and join it. Many of them have relatively inexpensive yearly dues. And below those I’ve listed websites that every writer absolutely should know about. Get involved and do your homework. I’ll get to #2 & #3 later this week…

Romance Writers of America http://www.rwa.org/

Mystery Writers of America http://www.mysterywriters.org/

Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America http://www.sfwa.org/

Horror Writers Association http://www.horror.org/

Garden Writers Association http://www.gardenwriters.org/gwa.php?p=index.html

Western Writers of America http://www.westernwriters.org/

International Thriller Writers http://thrillerwriters.org/

PEN American Center http://www.pen.org/index.php

Historical Novel Society http://www.historicalnovelsociety.org/

International Women’s Writing Guild http://www.iwwg.org/

Women’s National Book Association http://www.wnba-books.org/

Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators http://www.scbwi.org/

Preditors & Editors http://pred-ed.com/

Publishers Marketplace http://www.publishersmarketplace.com/

Publishers Weekly http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/home/index.html

Query Tracker http://querytracker.net/

Writer’s Digest http://www.writersdigest.com/


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11 responses to “Rx for Writer’s Loneliness: Join a Writer’s Organization

  1. I’m a writing group convert. Until I entered a critique group, I had no idea what I’d been missing. Verla Kay’s is also indispensable for me — I can’t get over how helpful and wise the people are there — and I have a small group of writer friends who I can trust to tell me the truth. But believe it or not, I can also trust my family to tell me if something isn’t working. Both of my kids are almost too good at pointing out plot holes, character inconsistencies, language that kids wouldn’t use — and much more. The only problem is, I can NEVER tell anyone who doesn’t know them that my kids liked something I wrote. It makes me sound like a newbie gushing about how her bridge group adores her ms.

  2. Sarah

    Another great place for feedback and encouragement is Verla Kay’s Message Board (children’s and YA writers.) It’s a community of authors, agents, editors and aspiring writers — a place to ask questions, post queries for critique, and sign up for critique partners and groups.

  3. Great advice, I’d also add blogging is a great way to connect with other writers!

  4. Great list! I would add just two things to help combat writer loneliness: vodka and MacAllister Stone’s Absolute Write (absolutewrite.com). It’s not an organization, per se, but there are plenty of resources and outlets for writer angst, questions, whining, and industry gossip. I love the forums.

  5. Rhen Wilson

    Thanks for the links, Linda. Do you know any good young adult writing groups?