Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Being an Active Writer



Guest post by Mandie Hines

Being an active writer involves more than getting words on paper. It’s more than consuming books on the writing craft. Although both of these are important, the piece that’s still needed is active participation in a writing community.

Many parts of writing are solitary, and for those of us who are introverts, that’s part of the appeal. However, our writing practice is enriched by the inclusion of other writers.

Writing groups and communities are part of the writing experience, and if you’re not part of a group and community, you’re limiting yourself.

Even more than being part of writing communities, participating actively is key. Joining a group is good, but are you bringing your work to your writing group for feedback? Are you engaging in conversations in online writing communities or with other local authors? I encourage you to seize the opportunity to learn and grow, while sharing your knowledge with other writers through participating in conversations about your writing, others’ writing, and writing in general. The more you give, the more you get.

There’s an additional step. The tools, tips, and tricks you learn from other writers won’t work until you put them to use. If you get feedback on a story, but never make the edits, you might miss an opportunity to improve. If you’ve been struggling to keep track of your story submissions and another author tells you about a tool that makes tracking submissions easier, but you never try it, you’ll continue to struggle.

Here are a few benefits of participating in writing groups and communities, but it is by no means an exhaustive list.

  • Editing
  • Beta Readers
  • Exchanging Ideas
  • Support
  • Encouragement
  • Writing Resources
  • Networking

Sometimes there’s advice you already know, but you have to hear it from somebody else before you can make the change.

While you’re passing your knowledge to other writers, you’re helping yourself too, in two ways. First, the best way to learn or remember something is to teach it to someone else. And second, by growing writing communities, you’re also growing potential future readers. When I connect with another writer, I feel excited about their stories, and I’ve purchased and read many books simply because of the connection I had with the writer.

Recently, I created a Facebook group to unite the writing community in Cheyenne, Wyoming. It’s made the importance of being an active writer clearer. Previously, I would have been content being a lurker. I would have looked for announcements for events I found interesting, but my engagement in connecting with other writers, participating in conversations, or creating events of my own would have been nonexistent.

Changing my role from observer to creator has made me realize how much I want to expand my life as a writer. I want to engage with my website, my writing community, my readers, and pass on what I’ve learned to other writers. It enriches me to participate in all these different areas, and it allows me to help more people too. I want to show up, do the work, and I hope that other members come through and do the same. There’s so much more to learn if we each add our voice to the groups we belong to.

It is easier and more comfortable to live a solitary life as a writer, but it is more fulfilling to participate in the world of writers. Chances are, many of them are much like you and me in their struggles, in their writing goals, and in their passion for writing.

At the end of the day, I want to give writing everything I have, not holding back, participating in every part of the writing world, not just the part where I’m writing a story, and I want to be surrounded by writers who are active as well.

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Mandie Hines writes in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains where unsettling ideas knock around in her head, screaming for an outlet, compelling her to create horror stories and psychological thrillers. She’s not satisfied until her stories keep her awake at night, fearful of what lurks in the dark. She’s also driven to write flash fiction and poetry that capture moments of human vulnerability. Her work has recently appeared in Down in the Dirt, Scarlet Leaf Review, and The Flash Fiction Press among others. She’s a member of the writing group Page Turners, Wyoming Writers, Inc., and the Facebook groups Cheyenne Writers Community and Wyoming Writers. Visit www.mandiehines.com for more.

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Susan here: While we are talking writing groups, I'd also like to add a shameless plug for WyoPoets for all you poets out there. Check it out at www.wyopoets.org.

2 comments:

  1. Mandie, this is great advice. When I started writing poetry in Colorado Springs, I was fortunate to find a mentor and that got me started. When I moved to Denver, I couldn't find a group to meet with. A friend suggested WyoPoets, and that group, as well as Wyoming Writers, has encouraged and nurtured me since 2009. And this blog, Writing Wyoming, is a great place to meet and correspond with others also. Thanks for the good words.

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  2. Thank you, Art! A writing group can make a world of difference, and I'm glad you were able to find writing communities in Wyoming to join. There are some really great ones here!

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