In my early writing days I believed that it was just me and the words. No one else would ever be involved. I was totally alone.
I’ve since learned that writing doesn’t need to be so solitary. True, there are times when it should be just you and the keyboard, but there are many times when you should be around and involve other people. For example.
- critiquing and feedback of your work – I have heard the opinion that a writer must write a million words before they have anything worth sending out. I would argue that a million words without any outside scrutiny doesn’t improve one’s writing much at all. The feedback around what works and what needs work is more valuable than the actual wordcount itself.
- marketing and self-promotion – you might be surprised at how useful talking to editors, publishers, agents and other writers can be. A publisher who has a chance to get to know you might ask you to send your work to them because they like you and think you would be a good person to do business with (btw, if you didn’t know that writing is a business, it is). The same holds true for agents, editors and so on. It can also be useful to know other people doing similar things to you because then you can setup cross-promotion activities. The more ways people have to find you (unless you are trying to avoid notice), the better.
- collaboration opportunities – not every book or story should be written by one person. Some projects are simply too big for one person to tackle. Case in point, my first anthology (being worked on with Jeffrey Hite). I’ve never done it before and I don’t think I personally have enough time to do (or even think of) everything that needs doing. Jeffrey is a great partner and has skills I don’t have that will make this project even better. Another reason for a collaboration is to bring in additional point-of-view. My example for this: the YA Steampunk JRMurdock and I are writing. We each bring a unique perspective to the story that has made it a lot of fun for both of us to write and I think to read.
- shoulder to lean on – let’s face it, only writers really understand writers. Our fears and anxieties, our hopes. They tend to resonate with other writers. When we stumble, it’s nice to have someone there to help us back up. When we reach a new height, it’s fantastic to share the news with people who can truly appreciate it.
There are other reasons, but trust me when I say, I owe much of my success to others. Yes, I’ve kept working at my writing but there have been times when I’ve needed that little kick in the butt to keep going. To not give up. Some of my best ideas have come from conversations with other writers and friends that I couldn’t have gotten on my own.
You owe it to yourself to get out there and talk to people. It will help you to make the key contacts that will push you to the next level.