I recently discovered the value of community as a writer. Though I’ve participated in workshops and even co-founded a creative writing club in college, I’ve always found my “alone time” the most rewarding — and the most productive.
Then I went to a writer’s conference. For the first time, the other writers I met weren’t just talking about writing books. They had written books. Often multiple books. Some of them had even published those books.
More importantly, instead of my usual exchange when meeting other writers — “Oh, you write? Me too! What genre?” followed by the realization that we write for completely different audiences and the inevitable exchange of book recommendations — these conversations advanced. Everyone wanted to talk about what she was writing. Everyone wanted you to critique his pitch, and then wanted to hear yours. It was the first time I’d ever talked — really talked — about my writing beyond my writing habits and what genre I wrote. I used to avoid talking about my writing, because I worried that telling people about it would make them realize I was a talent-less wannabe with lame ideas and impossible dreams. I got tongue-tied trying to explain my plots; I dreaded being asked, “what’s your book about?” and often responded that I didn’t like to talk about current projects until they were finished.
Mostly, I was afraid. Afraid that my ideas weren’t good enough, and afraid that talking about them would lead others to discover glaring plot holes that I’d missed.
But throughout the weekend at MWW, the more I talked about my book with other writers, the more confident I became. Sure, people asked me to clarify certain points. But that saved me a lot of hassle in later revisions.
So this time around, when meeting a friend from the conference for lunch, I came prepared. I’d come up with an idea for my next novel, and though I haven’t written a word of it yet (I’m thinking it may be my NaNoWriMo project), I wrote a pitch before we got together. No, I didn’t pull out my notebook at the restaurant; but I did talk about a project I’m really excited about long before I had all the kinks worked out. Writing the pitch, and having that conversation, helped me figure out what those kinks were. It also let me share my enthusiasm with someone who was equally excited about my ideas.