Sunday, November 7, 2010

Writing Isn’t a Wholly Solitary Endeavour

There is a misconception that writing is a solitary activity. insofar as the first steps of the process are concerned, it is. The first draft and rewrites can only be done by the writer. But check out the thank you or acknowledgement pages of any published book. It lists writing groups, friends, family, editors, research contacts, mentors - in short, it's a community of support and resources which helped the author create a publishable book.

Support systems are integral to our success. Good writing groups provide the diverse range of knowledge and skill. Fellow writers inspire us. They challenge us to perfection. They help us perfect our craft. From them, we learn about the business of writing - writing the synopsis and cover letter, how to approach publishers and agents, which ones to contact, etc.

I love Mystery Writers Ink and other writing groups I belong to. The best ones, like MWI, provide awesome speakers and resources to augment my mystery writing needs while another is an awesome critiquing group. Going to meetings with great guest speakers like homicide detectives or successful mystery writers saves me hours of research and allows me to spend more time writing.

Every good writing group has members who help each other by giving advice on craft and genre. Most importantly, we need to be with like-minded people - those who understand the writing life with its successes or the struggles and crazy times. These are the people who celebrate with us when the first draft is complete. They share our angst as we rewrite and perfect the manuscript. They commiserate with us through the rejections. Then, they party with us when the manuscript becomes a published book.

The support we receive, we must give back. That is the nature of the writing life and I find that most successful writers do that. We are there for each other. So, look at the writing group you belong to. Does it feed your need for expert knowledge on craft and genre? Does it inspire and encourage you? Then, ask yourself, how can I do for this group? Writing groups succeed because of dedicated volunteers. But, those volunteers can only do so much without jeopardising their own writing. The old adage, many hands make light work, seems trite but it's true. If we all do a little, we all get a lot back.

So remember, successful authors have a community of support around them ......

Ann Cooney