Let me see a raise of hands. How many of you have other writer friends? I've been writing for ten or so years, and up until last August, I knew exactly zero writers I could consider a friend. Now I have dozens.
Writing is a solitary endeavor. We all know that. Between my day job and my writing job, I probably sit alone in my study about fourteen to sixteen hours a day with only Eva Da Terrordale as my companion.
It’s a pretty lonely existence. For years, I flew solo, a wandering vagrant moving from café to café. Most of my friends don’t write. Hell, I’m not even sure if they’re all literate. Okay, they are but you know what I’m saying. For some, if it the words aren't on the internet or in a magazine, it might as well be hieroglyphics. And even those that are supportive don't really understand what a writer goes through to coax those words out.
So, where do people like us find others that we can connect with outside of the internet?
Conventions. Every genre has them. They’re all over the country (world) and chances are, there’s at least one in your neighborhood every year.
If you love to write and always wish you could hang out with other writers, conventions are a great place to start. Not gonna lie; I love conventions. They're fun, and you get to meet all these amazing people who share your passion for writing and stories. When I’m at a con, I feel like a hobbit finally coming back to the shire. I’m with my damn peeps. To this day, I kick myself for not attending cons years ago.
I've made so many great relationships at cons that I now have more friends than I ever had before I was a writer. Now I'm connected with the writing community in the Chicago area and attend readings and writing sessions on a weekly basis. It's been one of the most gratifying experiences of my career. And yes, it has made me a better writer.
In my opinion, the writing community is one of the most supportive ones out there. Unlike many other fields (*cough* acting/martial arts *cough*), I never felt like there was competition among writers. It's like climbing Mt. Midoriyama and achieving total victory. Everyone wants you to succeed and your gain isn't their loss.
But Wes, can it help me professionally?
Hmm...that's a trickier question and the answer is yes, but it's something I'll address in a later part. But for now, do yourself a favor and look up your nearest con. See if you can make it and give it a shot. Trust me, you'll be glad you did.
Scrivener tip of the day - Save your scrivener file in Dropbox/Skydrive/Google Drive/iCloud. That way, you can work on your desktop, and then later on pick up where you left off on your laptop later on at a cafe. Scrivener automatically addresses conflicts, and will version your project if you leave it open on multiple boxes. However, if you create too many conflicted versions (I believe the number is 5), you won't be able to open the file again until you delete some.