Back in 2003 when I quit my soul-sucking corporate job and opened a brick and mortar bookstore (which I sold three years later), one of my first initiatives was to start a writers’ group that met in the store every Saturday morning. I had decided that I wanted to finally pursue my life-long goal of writing and thought I should start by connecting with other writers (because, quite frankly, I had no idea what I was doing).
I learned so much from that group. One big lesson was that I was in no way prepared to write fiction at that time. Having spent my whole life wanting to be a writer, I thought that meant I should write novels. But the short stories I wrote and shared with the group were terrible. My imagination and writing skills both needed serious work.
I could have let that revelation crush my dreams, and I’ll admit that I wallowed in some self-pity for a few weeks. But that experience ultimately led to discovering how much I loved writing nonfiction. And that in turn led to starting my own publishing company, launching an annual Nonfiction Writers Conference, and the Nonfiction Authors Association.
Had I been trying to figure things out on my own, I highly doubt inspiration would have struck me the way it did. Connecting with fellow writers changed the entire course of my career and life.
Another big bonus came from the friends I made in the writing community. One of my dearest friends is someone I met from that little writers’ group 15 years ago, and I’ve since gone on to participate in many writers’ groups and conferences both as an attendee and speaker.
Find Your Tribe (Because writers make cool friends.)
By nature, I’m a hardcore introvert, as I know many writers are. I prefer solitude and silence over networking in a crowded room any day of the week. However, getting out into the writing community brings a whole different kind of satisfaction. It gives me a sense of being part of something. It’s a chance to connect and learn and get inspired by the success of others. Plus, being involved with fellow writers supports my personal goals and dreams.
Whether you’re an introvert like me, or you can’t wait to jump into a crowd of strangers and do your thing, I can’t emphasize enough how powerful it can be to find your people. Exchanging ideas with other writers, honing your own skills, and building friendships that can last a lifetime are just a few of the many, many benefits.
Where to Find Your Own Tribe of Writers
As writers, we love to talk about our books and projects. But once we’ve exhausted our family and friends with tales of our latest writing escapades, we eventually run out of people to tell about our projects. (And let’s be honest, family and friends aren’t always as interested as we’d like them to be). So, when a newbie shows up to the party (or writers’ group meeting, online forum or conference), they can expect to receive a warm reception from fellow writers eager to talk about writing.
Writers’ groups can be found in cities all around the world, though like any organized group, the tribe and the vibe will vary greatly from one group to the next. Ideally you want to find groups full of doers—writers who are moving their goals forward, not just talking about them. For this reason, you may need to visit several groups before you find one that fits your own needs.
Writers Groups: Meetings are often held in bookstores and libraries, so these can be good places to start looking. Also, do a Google search for your city + “writers group.” Meetup.com is another great place to find groups. Facebook Events and Eventbrite.com both list all kinds of local events.
Writers Conferences: The first time I really felt like a writer was when I attended the San Francisco Writers Conference with my first book proposal in hand back in 2004. I met my agent there, though she didn’t sign me until two years after we met because I didn’t yet have a platform (that’s another discussion entirely). I became a conference success story and have returned each year as a speaker there for the past ten years. Yes, it was a life-changing event for this writer!
Conferences are not only a great place to learn about writing and publishing, but also offer endless opportunities for networking with fellow writers, literary agents, and industry pros. If you want to feel like a writer, make a goal to attend a conference or two. You can find listings for conferences on Shaw Guides, Wikipedia, and the Association of Writers and Writing Programs.
Nonfiction Authors Community
After I found my calling in nonfiction, I grew frustrated by the lack of focus on nonfiction in many writers’ groups and conferences. Fiction writers seem to get a lot of the glory and attention. So, I had to start my own tribe, and it’s been a wonderful journey.
Shameless plug ahead…
If you’re a fellow nonfiction writer, I encourage you to check out our amazing community at the Nonfiction Authors Association. Here are some of the ways you can connect with us:
- A few months back, we launched a Facebook group for members only, and the connections there have been incredibly fun. We cheer each other on with new book releases, awards received, events and appearances, and much more. Recently one of our members said that she “finally found a home” within our community, and I know many others feel the same way. We also have a long-time LinkedIn group for members.
- Our annual Nonfiction Writers Conference is a virtual event—conducted via teleseminar—but participants can ask speakers questions and can connect with each other via a private Facebook group for attendees only. This is a great format for introverts, by the way!
- We also host local chapter meetings in cities across the U.S., Canada and U.K. Join us in cities like Dallas, Boise, and Atlanta.
We’d love for you to join us and find out what all the buzz is about. In addition to all the community benefits, we also host weekly educational teleseminars, a year-round nonfiction book awards program, offer partner discounts, and release exclusive templates, checklists and other content weekly.
Learn more about the Nonfiction Authors Association here (and maybe find your Tribe, too!)