Swoon Author Tiana Smith: How to Make (Writing) Friends
Writing can feel pretty solitary. It’s just you, your computer (or notebook if you’re old school), and the ideas in your head clamoring to get out. But all that changes once you’re part of the writing community.
NaNoWriMo is one of those places that helps. Suddenly there are other people out there who get you, who know what it’s like to jot down ideas in the middle of the night, or to struggle with a single sentence for an entire hour. Writer friends help make your work better, cheer you up when you get multiple rejections in a day, and push you to keep trying when you feel like giving up.
So, how do you become part of this amazing writing community? How do you find critique partners and beta readers? Once NaNoWriMo ends, how do you keep that support system alive?
1.) Don’t Be Afraid of the NaNoWriMo Forums.
Look around for people who write the same type of books as you. Message them! It’s not weird, and everyone likes making new friends. Look for people who are at a similar stage as you and see if they’re interested in swapping a few chapters. That helps you know if you might be a good fit for critique partners. If you click with someone, make sure you befriend them on other social platforms as well, like Twitter or Instagram so you can stay in touch.
2.) Speaking of Twitter, Get On It.
Twitter is like the water cooler of the publishing world. It’s not necessary for making writing friends, but it definitely helps. Find authors who write in your genre and see who they follow. Interact with people! Look up the #amwriting hashtag or any other writing-related terms. Writers are often introverted, but this is a great place for gauging personalities and reaching out to like-minded writers.
3.) Check Out Other Writing Platforms.
Places like Swoon Reads or Wattpad are ideal for finding other writers! Blogging used to be a lot bigger than it is now, but it’s still a great way for finding people.
4.) Find Mentor Programs.
Try Author Mentor Match or PitchWars, or any of the many, many mentorship programs available. Check out the hashtags on Twitter, because a lot of fellow writers like to hang out there. Even if you don’t get accepted into the mentor program, you’ll still have a great community of writers to exchange ideas with. A lot of these groups have Facebook groups as well, so it’s worth looking into.
5.) Speaking of Facebook, Look Up Groups.
There are lots of Facebook groups out there for every genre, writing level, and more. KidLit writers, non-binary writers, people who write YA books, query support groups—there is literally something for everyone.
6.) Camp NaNoWriMo.
The thing I like about Camp NaNoWriMo is that you can create your own cabin of friends or be automatically sorted into a group. It’s the perfect recipe for building a writing community.
7.) Last but Definitely Not Least, Go Local.
Attend local writing conferences! Meet up with people in real life and get to know their writer friends as well. This can sometimes be intimidating, but face-to-face writing friends can be the most encouraging. Deadlines and accountability seem more real this way. If you can’t afford to go to a conference, look up your regional council for NaNoWriMo—they’ll often host meet-ups and write-ins. And most of the people attending don’t know anyone there either, so don’t be afraid to start up a conversation!
It doesn’t have to end with NaNoWriMo. And if any of you feel like you need a writing friend, please reach out to me on Twitter, NaNoWriMo, Instagram, or anywhere else I like to hang out! Interact with authors that you enjoy reading—I promise you, most of us love talking to other writers and you can’t make friends if you don’t try.