We thought these were such great questions that they deserved their own blog entry.
My first suggestions would be to check out local/regional chapters of some of the national writing organizations such as Mystery Writers of America, Romance Writers of America, Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, etc. The thing is, even if you don’t write in one of these particular genres, you can still learn an awful lot through their organizations; plotting, craft, characterization, and information about how to approach editors and agents and publishers.
Here is a link to the regional chapters of SCBWI. They don’t have regular monthly meetings, but they do have schmoozes and critiquenics and day long workshops where you will undoubtedly meet other writers, many of whom will be introverts.
RWA also has a number of local chapters, most of which have regular monthly meetings. You do have to belong to the national chapter first, which requires annual dues.
Here’s a link to MWA’s regional chapters, many of whose meetings are open to non-members, so you can try them out before committing.
Just as a note as to how valuable cross pollinating with different genres can be, I didn’t sell my first children’s book mss until after I’d belonged to both SCBWI and RWA for a number of years.
Another great meeting place can be your local adult education classes or community college classes. In fact, that’s where Mary and I met.
Or use larger conferences or day long workshops as a chance to try and meet people who might be interested in forming a critique group.
If none of those avenues bear fruit, check with your local bookstores, librarians, and community centers to see if they know of any writers’ groups that meet locally.
Of course, there is always the internet. I know a number of popular authors have yahoo groups or forums and it turns out some of their biggest fans are aspiring writers, so that can be a good point of commonality from which to start your search.
There are also tons of yahoo writing groups, the Verla Kay boards, etc. In fact, the sheer number of them are overwhelming so maybe some blog readers can help out by recommending some of their favorite online writing groups and communities?
Okay, this is probably the hardest part. You’re at a workshop or conference or even sitting in a classroom with all these other people. How in gawd’s name do you make the first move? The truth is, you’ll most likely have to create a stretch goal for yourself to meet new people.
The thing is, like a best friend, you won’t necessarily know your writing buddy at first sight. The idea is to meet enough other writers so that you have a chance to form a deeper writing relationship with someone who you find you have a lot in common or develop a mutual affinity for.
Basically (to coin a phrase) you might have to sniff a lot of flowers before you find your one true Violet.
- Look around for people who seem friendly or open, who make eye contact with you, who smile.
- Also keep an eye out for other introverts; they may be thrilled to have someone make the first move.
- It might be smart to join an existing writer’s group for a short while to get a feel for the members and how they treat their writing and critiquing.
- If there isn’t an existing writer’s group in your area, consider starting one, but maybe on a short term, temporary basis just to see how it works so you’re not committed to something that ends up not working for you.
- With internet groups, after lurking then participating in the community for a while, you will start to get an idea of which posters you seem to have a lot in common with. When an opportunity presents itself, you can begin a conversation “off list” and see where it goes.
Lastly, what qualities does one look for in a writing buddy?
The truth is, writing buddies are an awful lot like friends; only it is a friendship that revolves around writing. In some ways, you will be more vulnerable in this relationship because you’ll be sharing your writing and goals and dreams and opening yourself to feedback, so many of the same guidelines for starting a new friendship will apply to beginning a writing buddyship.
You’ll want someone who:
- Gets you and your writing. Understands your thematic core and creative vision for your work.
- Who enjoys your writing as a reader.
- Who is able to engage in a healthy give and take, always kind and sensitive but who will say the hard things (gently!) that you need to hear.
- Someone who, over time, becomes as invested in your writing career as you are.
- You do not need someone who writes in the exact same genre as you do, as long as you enjoy each others work.
And anyone else who has thoughts on where or how to find a writing buddy or what to look for, please feel free to add them in the comment section!!