I have a theory about creating a successful career as a novelist: we need a community for authors; we succeed because of our community.
Community is a three-legged stool. I have one of these stools at home, painted black and white, with pink udders under the seat. My creative grandfather gave it to me, and I smile every time I look at it because it’s fun, playful, and reminds me of him, and of my three-legged theory of success for authors.
Here it is simply put:
1. All authors need peer support
There’s nothing like literally rubbing elbows with our peers to learn what is possible, what has been done, and what there is yet to do in our writing niche.
You can find peer support in your local writer’s organization. If you don’t already belong to the genre-writing organization in which you write, get thee to the writers groups. I’m talking groups like the Romance Writer’s of America, International Thriller Writers, Sisters in Crime, Christian Writers of America, etc. If you’re not sure if such an organization exists for your genre, just ask in the comments below, and we’ll help you figure it out.
Also, check out your state or region’s writing organizations. For example, in California, we have the California Writer’s Club. I know for a fact other states have such groups. Lastly, if you can’t find such a group, you can always create one using Meetup.com. (Meetup is also great place to search for in-person writing groups, too.)
2. All authors need teachers/mentors
Teachers come in many forms. Perhaps you can only take online writing classes. That’s cool. Lots of the organizations about offer such courses. Books are our teachers, of course. So read. Lots.
And some of you many want to work one on one with a coach or editor. That’s what I do with a small select handful of clients. I also teach online courses and a group program. Perhaps a teacher shows up in the form of a more experienced author in your critique group.
3. All authors need to help, teach, or in some way mentor other writers
There’s the saying, “Teach to learn,” which is one of the reasons I love teaching. I love to learn! It’s a known fact too that when you’re editing a peer’s work, you learn to articulate and discern what’s working and what’s not working in someone else’s writing. This in turn helps you become a better writer. Also, helping other writers is a way to pay it forward for all the help you’ve received out of the kindness of someone’s heart.
So like a three-legged stool that needs all three legs to be sturdy and a proper sitting device, writers need to have a peer group, get mentorship, and help others. If any one of these elements is missing, your community support is weaker. You’re not getting or giving all the help you could, and your career will suffer.
That’s what I believe and have seen to be true in my world. How about you? Do you have all the support you need? And if so, how did you create that? And if not, which of the three legs are missing? Chime in! I’m here to help. J
Image of hands from Shutterstock.
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