J. L. Harland   •   July 22nd, 2018


t is often said that writers write so that they don’t have to do much in the real world. They live in their heads and their created worlds, rather than connect with other people. One of the joys of having a writing partner is someone to share the angst and the tortuous joy that is writing. And this is multiplied when you talk to fellow writers.

Last time we looked at distractions and how social media could be detrimental to your writing – if you let it take over. However, social media is also a brilliant way to connect, and network with other authors. We have a colleague who is working with a group based in Australia.

Online writing groups give support and constructive criticism to others. Think how useful that could be. If you set a story or novel on a backdrop of a town in Texas, a place totally unfamiliar to you, you would need someone to give you background knowledge. Yes, you can visit places using google but does that tell you what it feels like to walk down a street? Can it give you the smells and sounds of that town? It wouldn’t be necessary to visit if someone, who lives in the area you have written about, can give you that information to add authenticity to your story.

The best way, we believe, to network is to attend festivals and book events where the people you meet will have similar interests and may even write in the same genre as you. Exchange email addresses; arrange to meet up for a coffee or even become a beta reader for their novel.

A word of warning. Not everyone you meet will be on the same wavelength as you so be cautious at first. Some events have writing workshops where you can meet people and gauge from their work and approach whether they would be fun to include in your network. Literary festivals are also a good way to meet your favourite authors and find out about their writing journeys.

Writing may be a solitary activity, but you are never really alone. Your characters may be real to you but connecting with the wider world will improve your writing. Networking is a skill worth cultivating.