There was an insane amount of information to digest from the SCBWI Midsouth conference (#SCBWIMIDSOUTH16). A lot. I learned a plethora about picture book characters, and advice on writing about historical events. I finally think I have a grasp of what a high concept novel is. All of this info was great, helpful, inspiring. But more on all of that later, because I’m still processing all that I learned and I feel a little overwhelmed by it.
In truth, I’m a minimalist at heart. or perhaps it just that I’m an introvert, but too much of anything, makes me need to take a step back and hibernate, to meditate for a spell. But while I spend the next few weeks thinking through what I’ve learned and how to apply it to my writing, there is one nugget of advice that doesn’t require much pondering, and is relevant to anyone regardless of where you are in your writing or who you’re writing for: the power of writing communities to keep us motivated and put our self doubt at bay.
One of the panels on Saturday was a discussion with both writers and illustrators on finding and keeping a critique group going. You might ask why, someone who has been apart of a critique group for years with the same people, more of less, would find this panel so uplifting. Yes! I already know the benefits of having support from other writers. But listening to them speak about how they found their groups and the amount of time they spend together each week reviewing each others work (some for three hours!), I realize how lucky I’ve been to have the support of the ladies and gent who form our little co-op.
We are only able meet once of month, because we all have day jobs, but we have found ways to encourage and motivate each other outside of these monthly meetings. I can honestly say, I need the support of my writing community to keep writing because most days my self-doubt can be crippling and at times I feel it would be easier to stick with the career I already have.
But we write, because we must. Because our fingers feel lost not gripping a pen and tapping keys. We write, because we are storytellers.
And when we find a thriving, encouraging community, it’s easy to remember we are not alone in our writing adventure and that others are rocking the highs and lows of being writers too. And we get to learn from and encourage each other in a perpetual motion forward.
Here’s a toast to community!
If you don’t have a writing community, or a critique group, I encourage you to find one. If you are a member of SCBWI, they have a listing of online and local groups. Or if you have a writer’s guild in your community, seek out available groups. Or find a co-worker who maybe a closet writer them self.