Thursday, January 14, 2010
My Writing Organizations
Among the Colorado writing community, I am known as the "Networking Queen" and have given talks at writing conferences and to writing organizations on the importance of networking for a writing career. The photos are from the Pikes Peak Writers' 2008 annual "American Icon" reading competition. The first one shows me (in my dreaded reading glasses!) working with fellow program planner Barbara Nickless and the three judges to determine the winners. The second one shows the happy winners with their certificates and prizes. Does it look like this was a fun event? It was--it included wonderful writing, booze and chocolate desserts, so how could it not be! My number one piece of advice for fledgling fiction writers is that you should join at least three writing organizations:
1. A critique group so you get other writers to evaluate your prose and give you feedback, allowing you to improve your writing until it is publishable and to keep it of top-notch quality from then on (See the recent post I wrote at my own blog praising my critique group!).
2. A local writing organization with educational meetings and/or workshops about the business and craft of writing that you will attend and learn from.
3. The national/international organization for your genre so you start thinking of yourself as a professional writer and learn all the unwritten rules for being a professional writer in your genre.
Now, as a "Networking Queen," not only do I follow my own advice, I've joined twice that many organizations. :-) As a mystery author, I am a member of:
1. My local critique group of six fine writers, to which I've belonged for ten years,
2. Pikes Peak Writers, based in my home city of Colorado Springs, CO,
3. Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, based in nearby Denver, CO,
4. Mystery Writers of America and the Rocky Mountain Chapter,
5. Sisters in Crime and the Guppies online chapter,
6. The Short Mystery Fiction Society.
I have gained valuable knowledge, opportunities, contacts, publishing contracts!, experience, friendships and so much more from my association with these groups. The value of these gains is waaaay more than the expenses I've incurred for membership fees, driving to meetings, etc.
But, do you want to know the secret for how to increase the benefits you gain from belonging to writing groups even more? Volunteer! Yes, take your turn serving on the board, running an event, or tackling a volunteer chore. Then you become part of the "inside crowd", trading favors with other members, and making your name and work known to them so when they come across an opportunity appropriate to you, they think of you and make that connection. I have served as a board member, organized events, driven speakers, stuffed conference registration packets, schlepped tables and chairs, waived my speaker fee, judged contests, and much more. And I'm happy to do it, because the benefits I've gained in return have been ten-fold.
So, go out there and join up, my writing friends! What writing groups do you belong to? Which ones are your favorites and which would you recommend to fellow writers?