My best piece of advice in writing is “don’t go it alone.” The stereotype is that writers struggle in a lonely garret, poor and misunderstood. OK, writing is a solitary endeavor. But it doesn’t have to be a lonely one. Once you meet other writers you’ll find a group of amazing, intelligent, compassionate and intense people who will form an irreplaceable circle of friends.
One place to start building your circle is at a writers conference. In Western Washington, that might be Pacific Northwest Writers Association summer conference. It’s how I got my start–not only with the nuts and bolts of writing, but with becoming part of a writing community. In Eastern Washington your best bet is Write on the River (the Columbia, you know) on May 15-16 in Wenatchee. We’re heading into our fifth year. If you’re in the vicinity, join us for a day and a half of workshops given by award-winning authors on fiction, nonfiction and the writing life. Also attending and hearing pitches: literary agent Sally Harding, and Becker and Mayer book editor, Adrian Liang.
I’m very happy to report that Terry Brooks is our keynote speaker. If you’ve never heard Terry, speak, I can tell you he is at once knowledgeable, fun and gracious. But suppose you’re nowhere near Washington state? Hey, google “writing conferences.” In fact, if you already know of good ones, drop us a comment here, and tell us what state they’re in. Love to have recommendations.
If you’re already a believe in writing conferences, consider volunteering for one. I’m chairman of the board for Write on the River this year. How do I find the time? Believe me, I thought long and hard before getting involved. I do it not only to give back, but to stay connected. For me, it’s a window out of the garret.