Build your tribe
While we’ve been talking about getting the voices in your head on board with this whole writing thing, friends and family can help or hinder your writing in a million ways. One of the best things you can do to help your writing life is finding allies and friendly support, and that search starts with the people you already know. When you have people in your life that will support and respect your writing, that’s your tribe, and they can be an essential element for building and maintaining your writing life.
Spread the Word
Have you started telling people about your writing yet? You don’t have to. Sometimes keeping it secret, especially at the start, can make the process more exciting and help you keep your momentum without outside influences.
But if you are ready to shout about your new writing journey from the rooftops, do it! It’s a great way to connect with like-minded peers and expand your creative networks. Letting people can also influence your writing life in other key ways.
Keep you accountable
When you tell people about your writing, they cannot help but ask about it, and that can help keep you committed to your writing goals. The friend that checks in to see how your novel is going, the spouse who asks how your morning writing session went, my kindergartner asking me over breakfast if I figured out how to deal with that dragon scene yet, it all helps keep me motivated and moving forward with my goals. When the people who matter to you know about your writing and are invested in it, that helps you stay invested too.
The motivating power of SHAME
You know what else is very motivating? Shame. The more people you tell about your writing efforts, the more of a fool you’ll feel like if you don’t follow through with them. Many a night, I only keep writing because I told too many people I was working on this and I’d rather keep writing than face the humiliation I’d feel if I had to admit I gave up.
See also: Spite. You think I can’t do it? JUST WATCH ME.
Power of community
Writing can be a solitary activity, but it doesn’t need to be. There are a wealth of writing networks online and off from local writing groups to online communities collected under social media hashtags (try #amwriting, #writingcommunity, and #nanowrimo to start) that help you find other writers. Connecting with like-minded writers online and off can be invaluable throughout the writing process for everything from finding beta readers and critique partners to networking your way to publishing opportunities, but it’s especially important when you are just starting out.
A writing community can offer support, advice, and cheer-leading to help keep you writing. Having other writers there to bounce ideas off of, share your writing triumphs and commiserate with on the dark days can enrich your writing process from start to finish. And sometimes, just knowing all these other people are out there writing regularly and getting the words down is enough to help you do it too.
Debut the new writing you
Non-writers don’t really get the whole writing thing. At best, they get enthusiastic about the wrong things or have an unrealistic idea of how publishing works. At worst, they are dismissive or downright hostile to your creative efforts. Hollywood has warped the writing mystique, and it’s often a challenge to get people to understand and respect what you are actually doing vs. what they imagine you are.
The sooner you tell your friends and family about your new commitment to writing, the sooner they will get it and respect both your time and what you are trying to do. It may not happen right away, and you may have a lot of frustrating and discouraging moments ahead, but laying down some ground rules for how you expect them to respect your writing time and goals right at the start can go a long way towards heading some of those issues off before they begin. Or you may find that your people are immediately and eagerly your ally! Then you’ll have someone to help you defend your writing time or otherwise take on other responsibilities. And that is great! You can’t underestimate the value of having a support system and cheering section to support you on this journey.
The following is an adapted excerpt from Building a Writing Life: start a writing habit, find time to write, discover your process and commit to your writing dreams available now in paperback and eBook.
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