NEWS FLASH! My short story “Chosen Sacrifice” is available as an eBook for $0.99 at Amazon, the Apple iBook store, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.
Buy and read it now or wait until MUSINGS is available on June 20 and read the whole short story collection then!
Now on to our regularly scheduled blog…
This week on SCRAWLS, I wanted to address why writers should get involved with other writers. I talked last month about the fact that writer’s should never live in a bubble (even if they do often work in one) and I wanted to continue that train of thought today with a couple of very useful practices.
The writing community is called that for a reason. After all, the publishing industry is filled with far more people than just writers. There are agents, editors, story cover artists, marketing consultants, public relations workers, and most importantly, readers. All writers are readers. We read our own work and we read others’ work. This fact means that we naturally want to talk about our work and the work of others with other writers. One of the healthiest ways to accomplish this is to get involved in a writing critique group. If you can do nothing else in the writing community, please join a good writing group!
An honest critique of your work is sometimes painful, but it is worth ten insincere pats on the back. Your ultimate goal for your work needs to be to make as good and memorable of a piece of entertainment for your readers as possible. The work should please you and please your readers. If it does not do both of these things, it has failed as a piece of writing. Often it is hard for a writer to see the flaws in his or her own work and that is why a writing critique group is so wonderful. The whole purpose of your writing critique group should be to show you your strengths, but also to graciously indicate where your words are weak. Part of the fun of being a writer is the fact that the more I learn about this business, the more I appreciate reading the written word itself. I get excited about my writing sessions and cannot wait to give my critiques on my friends’ stories and receive their critiques on mine in turn. This group give and take is not only healthy, it is also far more efficient of a learning environment than a lone writer trying to work out all of the “kinks” by himself.
My suggestion is to find a local group or start your own group with writers that share your genre interests. One of the easiest ways to do this is to check if any colleges or universities in your area offer creative writing classes. Talk to the teachers of those classes to find out about either taking the course or joining any known private critique groups. You can also find numerous online writing courses and join cyber critique groups.
The advice of genre-specific critique groups will help you far more in the long run than that of generalized groups. I have enjoyed going through a couple of paid courses over the years, but I will caution you to always choose a course or critique group that deals specifically with the genre of writing that you want to publish. I have been involved in a generalized literary course where I was forced to write mainstream fiction instead of fantasy or science fiction. I will never make that mistake again because my caliber of writing suffers when I cannot write what I love.
If you want interaction beyond the critique group, there are myriads of writers on social networks and forums such as Twitter, Facebook, Kboards.com, etc. that can help involve you in their respective communities and update you about events affecting the writing community in general. You can also follow other writers’ blogs and comment on them.
Certain etiquette is required for blog and social media sites like these: you are welcome to comment, but not to harass. Do not try to hard sell yourself or your work, just be yourself and participate in the community. You will learn great information and make excellent contacts this way. These contacts will come in handy later when you do need to market your stories, but just enjoy the new friendships for now. Case in point, posting the occasional update on a specific story’s progress is fine, but if all people hear is “Please buy my story!”, they will usually start ignoring you because you have no “useful” information to share. You need to engage others about many different common interests. Tell others what excites you: a new book, a new movie, a new game. Then discuss it with other people. Write a blog on your own website about different aspects of writing or other related hobbies that fascinate you and add the links to your posts to your social media pages. Post links to interesting YouTube videos. Have fun with your participation in the community. The more people get to know you as a person, the more likely they will support you in your artistic endeavors if you are tactful in mentioning your work.
Until next time, may we each rewrite our world for the better!
The Seared Cookie Report: one Artist/Writer’s Labored Soliloquy (SCRAWLS) is brought to you from the writing desk of Alycia C. Cooke and/or Alycia Christine Sears at Purple Thorn Press and Photography with love, speculative fiction books, and virtual baked goods for all. Please let me know your thoughts about this particular post and, as always, if there is any subject you wish me to discuss, contact me. Thanks!