Let’s talk about writer friends.
As the current Membership Chair of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, I’m occasionally asked to talk about the benefits of joining RMFW. The benefit I’m most passionate about is not an automatic perk like access to critique groups or discounted class and conference fees. It’s a bonus you must work for.
What’s the statistic—seventy-five percent of writers are introverts? Ninety percent? Like most of us, I was once that writer who talked to a few people at conference, exchanged info, and maybe sent an email or maybe not. I did this for years, making a couple of friends. I joined a critique group. I was skimming the surface, trying to convince myself that I was immersed. But then I looked around.
Other writers at conference and events had little tribes. (Many of us on the outside called them cliques.) These folks were clearly good friends, with lots to talk to each other about, with history and shared interests. Real friends.
One might assume these groups of friends had known each other before they joined RMFW, Pikes Peak Writers, or Northern Colorado Writers, but as I began to ask questions, I found that was almost never the case. These folks had built their relationships after they joined. At one time, most of them had felt alone and awkward at member events. The thing about these people who had found their sub-tribes is that they didn’t give up and go home, lock themselves into their writing spaces, and call themselves isolated. They spent time with each other, even when it was at first uncomfortable.
It eventually came clear: To find my people, I had to talk to everyone, and really talk, listen to people and learn about them, and share myself. That last part was difficult at first.
But I did it. Sometimes terrified and almost always wishing I was at home curled around a book, I talked to everyone. (Some turned out to be a little weird-in-a-bad-way. Always be careful.)
I found my people. I’m still finding my people. My people are everywhere.
If you haven’t tried to reach out to other writers, do it. The friends you’ll find are precious. These are the people who will encourage you and commiserate with you and understand you when no one else does.
To me, the most important benefit of membership in a writers group is access to potential writer friends. You can’t have too many of these, I’m telling you. They will shove your worries into perspective when you’re feeling sorry for yourself. They’ll read that manuscript one more time, even though they’ve read four previous drafts. They’ll give you reality checks, cheer you on, and give you advice that’s relevant in ways advice from non-writers will never be.
Just make sure to return these favors when you can.
Rejoice in your writer friends. Tell them they’re your superstars. Buy them a drink of their choice.
Got any great writer friend stories? I’d love to hear them. I might even share one or two of my own.