By Richard Warren
Stephen King once said that “writing is a lonely job.” It certainly is, just you and the pen or keyboard. Unless you are a true loner, it is important to have contact with other people regularly. Though any human contact is helpful, connecting with others who understand what you do can help you maintain your sanity. Fortunately most cities and towns have writers groups where you can socialize and network with other writers while you enhance your knowledge about various aspects of the craft and business of writing.
Groups range from a handful of writers meeting in a coffee shop to large national organizations such as the Romance Writers of America, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, etc.. Some groups may cater to a specific genre while others are more general. Some groups are great for those just starting out with others being geared to more experienced writers. Search for a group that offers what you are looking for, if you aren’t sure what that is go to different groups until you find one that feels right.
You will discover many different formats as you explore the groups. Some are created more for socializing and networking, others are geared toward education and will usually feature speakers on various writing related topics, groups exist that deal primarily with craft and writing techniques and still more focus on critiquing the work of their members. Attend the group or groups that offer what you need or want the most and see if they will be a good fit for you.
To get the most out of any group you should get involved. Offer to help out or join the volunteer team. This will allow you to get to know more people and increase your own visibility within the group. Being involved may also allow you to have a voice in the direction of the group. Your role in the group may also open doors for you in the local writing community as you become known as an active participant rather than simply a spectator.
Perhaps the most valuable benefit of joining a group is the connection you are able to make with other writers and people in the literary community. You may be able to find a mentor or a sounding board for your ideas and will probably make new friends. That’s why it’s important to feel comfortable and welcome in whatever group you choose. So find one or more local groups and join but remember, the more you put into it the more you will get in return. It’s a wise investment.