There’s no doubt about it, networking for writers matters. Luckily, for most of us, meeting other writers is also a hugely enjoyable pastime. But even if you’re an introvert who would prefer to spend his/her life in a library or at the writing desk, I’d suggest that you do carefully consider the benefits of meeting your peers and forming a writers’ community – the rewards are, without doubt, massive. Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable (described in a review by the Sunday Times as one of the twelve most influential books since World War II – Taleb predicted the 2008 financial crisis) wrote: “Go to parties. You can’t even start to know what you may find on the envelope of serendipity. If you suffer from agoraphobia, send colleagues.”
Parties are unpredictable events – for Taleb, the very act of putting oneself in a random situation is a positive act in that you are allowing for unpredictable things to unfold. Literary Festivals are grand parties of a kind and this year at the Charroux Literary Festival I hope I opened up all kinds of good serendipity by running a Networking for Writers event.
What was intriguing for me about the conversation that ensued was how many common threads unravelled during the course of our session – and how much easier it becomes to solve a writing problem or find a new approach to a challenge when one brings several interesting writerly minds together. When writers have networks and communities where they can share their common experiences and ask questions, there is huge room for cross-fertilisation of ideas and plenty of powerful inspiration.
Let’s take a look, for example, at some of the rich connections in this group. The writers attending included:
Sue Crampton, founder of the Limousin Writer’s Group
Stephanie Zia, founder of Blackbird Digital Books
Harriet Springbett whose novel Tree Magic has been accepted for publication.
Alison Donaldson, author of Communities of Influence whose subject is writing and conversation and especially how we combine them at work.
and Kathy Jones, one of the Directors at Lightning Books
Just look at the diversity of literary experience in that one room in Charroux! It’s not surprising that wonderful things happen when such interesting individuals come together. As I write this, I’m preparing to go to a literary launch party, and it makes me all the more excited about the synchronicities that might unfold.
What were the common threads at this Networking for Writers event?
It’s fascinating, I always find, when writers come together, how we find areas that many of us struggle with and how together we find solutions that we would never have been able to find alone. Here are just a few areas that sprang up in our conversation. I wonder how many of them are familiar questions for you?
- How do I organise my writing work?
- How do I develop the persistence I need in order to finish a whole novel?
- Where is the overlap between fiction and memoir?
- How do I write a good synopsis that is attractive in the marketplace?
- In memoir-writing, how do I deal with the legalities of working with true facts and writing about real people?
- What do I do when I feel that I lack inspiration on a particular day?
- I struggle with focus – how to I develop the ‘focus’ muscle?
Together we talked through individual questions and shared our experiences and in an intense hour or so, we found ways through our blocks and uncertainties and found a greater clarity via our discussion.
So often, we try to make sense of our writing issues alone, but how much better is it when we’re not working alone? Over the years I know that I have learned so much from my writer friends and gained enormously from their wisdom. The writing groups that I have belonged to have enriched my writing hugely and I do encourage you, in the months ahead, to think carefully about how you might meet other writers and share with them, whether online or in person.
There’s also a lovely opportunity to meet me and join one of my groups for a full day in London in January. At the time of writing, there are still five places remaining on my Developing Your Novel course on 22nd January 2016, an exclusive one day fiction writing course for those who wish to improve their writing skills and take their manuscript to the next level, taking place in the beautiful Wallacespace in Covent Garden. The participants who have already signed up have a wonderful range of experience and I know it’s going to be a fascinating day where we develop yet another new community of writers.
Whether or not you can join my next event, do take some time today to ask yourself the following three questions:
- How can I develop my community as a writer?
- How can I nurture the writing colleagues and connections I already have?
- What can I do today to create serendipity in my writing life? (Where’s the party? Who can I submit to? Who can I connect with today?)
I wish you much luck with your writerly connections and do let me know how you get on…