Not so long ago I was reading a post in an online writers group I belong to. It was from a young American living and working in the Orient. He was a writer wanting to connect with other writers and reaching out through the best avenue he had–social media. He reminded me of how lucky I had been when I had accidentally moved into a state with a thriving community of writers. In a year’s time I went from being someone who had written steadily for a decade, receiving praise from teachers but knowing no other writers, to someone who was given a roadmap to achieving the professional writing success I had dreamed of.
And what I had been given was people–people with the same dreams and ambitions as I had. People who taught writing and wrote what they taught. Journalists who wanted to write fiction. Talented amateurs who formed critique groups to help each other develop our skills. Writers groups with meetings and speakers and contests. State-wide groups with yearly conferences, where professionals–agents, editors, other writers–came to speak and offer advice. National conferences and groups who offered bigger and better opportunities and advice.
But most important of all were the friendships formed, the working together to help each other grow and hone our skills. Writers, as a group, are the most generous professionals I have ever met. They offer their knowledge, their encouragement and their assistance freely.
So to anyone out there, at almost any stage in your development, the best advice I can offer is to reach out to other writers wherever you find them. Listen to each other. Talk. Share. Form a critique group and offer objective, constructive criticism. Some of the most successful writers I know were not technically good writers in the beginning. But they worked, and they learned, and in the end, perseverance will accomplish much more than raw talent ever will. Anyone can work. Anyone can learn. And anyone can create something that will sell.
Of my original critique group of eight, all but two became selling writers, all of full length books, all with major publishers when print was all there was. This group broke into smaller groups that continued to incorporate new writers who continued to become selling authors of full length books sold to major publishers. This is not a fluke. When writers pull together to help each other become the best they can be, it works.