Writers are solitary creatures…or are they?

It’s spring and conferences are in the air. But if attending a conference isn’t in the books for you this year, there are other ways to find a writing community.

Earlier this month I attended the AWP conference, that’s the Association of Writers and Writing Programs. It’s a major event every year, and this year it was in my home town. According to their site, each year over 12,000 people attend. You can imagine the jokes about all those introverts in one place, filling a convention center only to sit in corners with books, ignoring each other.

Of course, it’s not like that at all. It’s nonstop activity from 9:00 a.m. until midnight, and that’s only the official activity. Who knows what goes on in bars, clubs, and hotels until what hour? And while writing a book might be a solitary activity, AWP caters to “writers, teachers, students, editors, and publishers.” Of course, very few people there are only writers. You could rephrase that to say writers who are also teachers, students, editors, and publishers. Some of the publishers might not be writers, but my point is, everyone in attendance belongs to a community, be it in a BFA/MFA program, a small press, a literary agency, or a large press.

You can read about AWP 2013 here.


Lidia Yuknavitch at the podium at AWP 2015


And there are many more conferences around the world, so if academia isn’t your niche, don’t worry. There’s a conference out there for you. Check out the Shaw Guide to conferences and programs.

If you’re an indie author, there are dozens, maybe hundreds of online communities you can join. Kboards is probably the biggest community forum, and a good place to start connecting with others in your genre.

Podcasts are everywhere right now and I find them the easiest way to stay on top of industry news and find out who’s doing what with what results. You’re probably a fan of the Rocking Self-Publishing Podcast, The Creative Penn, and The Self-Publishing Podcast. Have you heard of The Sell More Books Show? I’m sure you haven’t heard of the Author Strong podcast yet—more on that in a minute.

The great thing about podcasts is that you get to learn from people in your community—albeit a virtual community—at your convenience. And while you might not know these people personally, I’ve found in the indie world that people are approachable and beyond helpful. The podcasts are a great way to connect with others through the comments, feedback, and Q&A interface with the hosts on podcast sites. A great feature of podcasts is that each guest brings new resources to the listeners, new opportunities to connect, and the indie web grows bigger and stronger. So when you connect to a podcast, don’t just listen, get involved. Make contact. Grow your community.

Of course, sometimes we need actual face time with our community. There are resources for that, too. Find writing courses and workshops, MeetUps, and writing groups, or start your own.  Mat, Nancy, and I touched on writing groups in our chat yesterday. Whether together or separately, you’ll hear more on this topic soon enough.

Wait a minute…Mat? Nancy? Chat?

Back to the Author Strong podcast I mentioned above.

Yesterday, I was the special guest on the soon-to-launch Author Strong podcast with Mat Morris and Nancy Elliott. It’s a daily show with amazing content launching on Friday, May 1st. Mat drew on his connections in the indie author community to bring incredible guests to the mic, so you can expect greatness right out of the gate.

We recorded 3 episodes, an interview and a 2-part piece on point of view. I had a blast talking shop with Mat and Nancy, so I promise that besides being chock-full of craft wisdom, our episodes will be fun to listen to…if you enjoy the super-charged energy of people geeking out about their specialty.

All of the podcasts I’ve mentioned are easy to find in iTunes and other distribution channels. Look for Author Strong on Friday, May 1st, and don’t say I didn’t give you anything for May Day!

Happy Spring!


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