In any business, networking is a good idea. But since writing is generally a fairly solitary and insular craft, you might be wondering why you would want to bother networking with other writers. After all, it could be a pretty dicey proposition. You don’t want to start discussing the finer points of your latest work with a colleague only to have him release a story that is suspiciously similar to your own. And don’t forget that writing is a creative form, which means you’re likely going to be dealing with finicky “artistic” types. Who needs the stress? In truth, networking with other authors can be a lot more useful than you might think, especially if you find people who are on the same page as you (no pun intended). Here are just a few reasons you should seriously consider linking up with some other writers.
1. Start a workshop. You probably have plenty of friends and family members willing to read bits and pieces of your latest work and give their opinion, but nobody can really help you to move forward the way another writer can. If you can find a few authors in your area, set up a weekly meeting where everyone can share what they’re working on and offer up a critique. In this way you’ll form a community of like-minded individuals engaged in symbiotic sharing for the benefit of all. And if plagiarism occurs, you’ll have plenty of witnesses!
2. Trade editing. Your publisher probably has plenty of experienced editors on staff to get your book in ship shape. But let’s face it: those people live by the formula. If you fancy yourself an artist, then why not approach other artists for feedback? You can reciprocate by checking out their latest drafts, as well.
3. Collaborate. Although most authors have their own vision and their own voice, you can get some unexpected results when you work in concert with another writer. It will not only allow you to share the burden of completing a project; it will also help you to expand your horizons and try something new, potentially helping you to become a better writer in the process.
4. Meet people. There’s something kind of romantic about the notion of sitting in a dark study, surrounded by leather-bound copies of your favorite literary classics, typing away at your keyboard to finish the latest installment of your vampire trilogy (which is going to be SO much better than Twilight). That lasts right up until you realize that you haven’t spoken to anyone or seen the outside world for about a week. There’s no denying that most authors live in their own heads much of the time, but that doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from some social interaction. In fact, you might go stir crazy if you don’t. Networking with other authors will give you a built-in group of friends that understand exactly what you’re going through.
5. Stay relevant. It is said that you write best what you already know. But if you stop experiencing the world around you, you’ll soon hit a dead end (you know: writer’s block). Networking with other authors will not only get you out of the house, it will allow you to bounce ideas off another person who is actually qualified to tell you whether or not they’re any good. And an off-the-cuff conversation could provide the spark for your next novel.