Day 79 – Networking is Necessary
Networking. That word makes me gag a little. Something about it screams Hello! I wear pants suits and strongly identify with the word alpha. It's not my bag, but networking is necessary when you get serious about this writing business and believe it or not it doesn't require a suit of any kind or a bluetooth. It just takes a little practice. When you're new, networking is a lot more take than give. Everyone seems to know more than you do. When I started networking in writing circles, my confidence was at an all time low and I was embarrassingly needy. There was sweating, blushing, and general ass hat making. It probably felt worse than it looked, but it was awful the first couple of times. To make it through the growing pains, remember that inexperience is a temporary state. You'll gain knowledge little by little and, at some point, you'll run into someone less experienced than you and you'll be able to pay it forward. At the moment, I'm networking in 3 different ways.
1. Author blogs, Facebook pages, and Twitter feeds - Social media is probably the least intimidating form of networking and it's convenient. I reach out and talk to authors at various stages in their careers daily through blog comments, Twitter feeds, and Facebook fan pages. Get connect if you aren't already. Authors are more accessible today than they've ever been. Anne Rice has a particularly active Facebook page and Joyce Carol Oates is on Twitter!
2. Writing group - Writing groups are my life preserver. Yes, there will be weird people. Some people will be egotistical assholes that are out to tear everyone else down, but if you stick around, you'll meet people who inspire you and help you improve your craft. I've been attending the same writing group on and off for almost 6 years and it's there that I met some of my best friends. The easiest way to find a writer's group in your area is Meetup.com, but library's and bookstores sometimes also host writing groups.
3. Writing conferences and classes - Conferences, festivals, and classes are another way to network with other authors and hone your craft. We're spoiled in Austin. We have the Texas Book Festival, a local chapter of SCBWI, the Writing Barn, the Southwestern University Writer's Voice to name a few. It's much more intimidating than online networking or getting together with a small group of authors, but these are the places you'll find business connections. You'll rub shoulders with experienced writers, editors, and agents. You never know who you'll be stuck in line with. Bring your business cards. If you live in an area with a less active writer seen, night classes at community college is another great options.
The best tip I can give about networking is the same tip I give about living life. Judge other people less and you'll judge yourself less. It makes networking and life less stressful all around if you cut everyone a little slack.
Now get out there and connect!
It's funny. Writing is a solitary task, but in order to succeed at it, you need other people. - Kim Wright
Prompt: Write an awkward conversation.