Barb Caffrey: Today I'd like to talk about social media. I've known some writers who've made great strides in their readerships, using it -- but what I use it for, mostly, is to get to know other fans and writers. I've been able to gain encouragement, support, and appreciation through the use of Twitter and Facebook (I don't use Instagram or Pinterest, but I've heard both of those also are quite useful; find your own platform, and use it).
Most of the writers I know on Facebook, for example, talk about their works-in-progress, or sometimes about the struggles they're having with their works-in-progress. This lets me know that I'm not alone, and gives me the option to talk to them, see what they're doing and how they're doing it, and give them the support they've given me...an unending circle, if you will.
While I stand behind my previous recommendation of the Forward Motion Writers Group (fmwriters.com), I urge you to try the various social media platforms, and see if one -- or more -- may work for you.
Now, as far as how to find other writers locally, in whatever area you live in? I know where I live -- Racine, Wisconsin -- we have a local writers' group that meets every Thursday night in various places. I've only been there once or twice, but I appreciate knowing this group exists; I get their e-mails, and have written back and forth a few times to the various group organizers. (This group, by the way, is absolutely, positively free. Just like Forward Motion is online, except with real-time communication.)
There are a few other ways, mind. If you live near a university (or college), you might see if there's a group meeting there. Or there may be writers doing events at a local book store; going there to talk with the writer (or writers) in question may help you meet someone with similar interests, and perhaps lead to a writerly friendship down the line.
But the main thing to know is this: We all start off as neophytes. And the only way to get any better is to keep trying, keep writing, keep creating, and dare to be the creative person you were born to be.
I hope that helps.
Barb Caffrey has written three novels, An Elfy On The Loose (2014), A Little Elfy in Big Trouble (2015), and Changing Faces (forthcoming), and is the co-writer of the Adventures of Joey Maverick series (with late husband Michael B. Caffrey) Previous stories and poems have appeared in Stars Of Darkover, First Contact Café, How Beer Saved The World, Bearing North, and Bedlam's Edge (with Michael B. Caffrey).
Doranna Durgin: I admit, the scope of this question was a little daunting. How many of us have really figured out the answer to all these questions on our own? Not me!
But I have an approach to figuring them out, which is maybe the next best thing.
Actually, it’s going to sound too simple: Figure out where you want to go. Figure out what you need to get there. Choose to do those things.
Ha ha ha ha!
Ask yourself ALL the questions! You may still have to do some eenie-meenie, but questions should winnow things out so it’s not all just one big overwhelming mass.
Also, there are many opportunities for connecting with others of a writerly bent. Do you want something local, or online? What are your goals for connecting—are they social, or are they educational? Can they be met by writers of any experience level, or only those well along their career path? Can they be met by gathering as a reader, with readers?
What are the downsides to any of those choices?
The thing is, sometimes we don’t know.
Social media platforms change. The software around engaging with them changes.
Writers’ groups wax and wane with the participants’ real life obligations and their evolving writing paths. The value of our choices (to us) changes. This can be hard to acknowledge once one has invested time, energy, and emotion into a situation—I for one am particularly guilty of lingering when I should move on—but it’s important to perceive when a thing that should be supporting your writing is actually taking from it.
So Part Two of the simple approach is this: Maintain reality checks to adjust outreach choices as your experience grows.
Our initial choices don’t need to be perfect—there’s no way that all of them are, no matter how thoughtfully we proceed, so the need to adjust a decision isn’t a fail. In fact, it might well be a nice indication of progress and growth. Cool!
So Part Three of the simple approach is a reminder that decisions made/actions taken count as moving forward even when they aren’t perfect. Endless sit and spin…well, that’s just sitting and spinning.
So figure out your personal goals—your goals, not what everyone says should be your goals or what they’ve all chosen as goals--and go for what meets them. And then pat yourself on the back.
Doranna Durgin is an award-winning (Compton Crook--best first SF/F/H of the year) whose quirky spirit has led to an extensive and eclectic publishing journey across genres, across publishers, and across publishing lines. Beyond that, she hangs around outside her Southwest mountain home with horse and highly accomplished competition dogs. She doesn't believe in mastering the beast within, but in channeling its power. For good or bad has yet to be decided...