I’m writing from scenic Arizona this week, having recovered from my annual Thanksgiving cold just in time for a writer’s retreat that I’ve had on the books for ages.
But here we are hard at work:
A writer’s retreat has great benefits. A change in routine and an absence of normal responsibilities. Literally nothing to do but write. And of course there’s the peer pressure. Nothing is more motivating than the frenzied tapping of laptop keys from the other side of the table.
Then, of course, there’s the networking, which is a big thing when you think about conferences and retreats and a conglomeration of writers in one place. We were talking about this last night, and I think it’s important to realize that the way to form a good network is to remember, it’s not about what someone can do for you. It’s about sharing information and support, including emotional support from people who understand the particulars and peculiarities of being a writer. (Because there are a lot of things that ONLY other writers will understand. It’s a weird business and, of course, we’re all weird artistic types anyway.)
A writing life in unique in that there are two aspects of your career. The business side, and the internal, emotional artistic side. You’ll have groups that fall, sometimes, to one side or the other, but in the end, it’s writers who understand writers.
I can honestly say that, in my writing journey, the friends and support system that I’ve been lucky enough to find has made a huge difference in my life. Building a support system is something that takes work–but you can’t force it. I’d say its more about staying open to connections and cultivating the ones that are positive and productive.
And of course, as with any friendship, half of it is being there for the other person, not just what they can do for you. Of course I’m lucky enough to be in gorgeous Arizona hanging out with these amazingly smart women in person, but the Internet is your friend. Also, this is one of the reasons I encourage people to find a local chapter of your RWA or SCBWI. It’ll take work and some trial and error, but a network of people who support and understand the process, both of writing and building (and maintaining) a career is invaluable.