Being a newb in any profession is awkward and humbling. You're on a constant mission to collect information and experience so that you'll no longer be branded as the 'new guy'. Your best friend is anyone willing to share information and advice without teasing you for your ignorance. The only way to stop being branded a newb is to become competent and experienced in your profession...or to become more competent and experienced than the newest member of your team. (See how that works?)
Being a newb in the writing community shouldn't be as daunting as being a newb in the gaming community. This all depends on the people you surround yourself with. If you associate with people who tease you, berate you, or discourage you, your experience will be unpleasant and it may even turn you away from writing. You will encounter people like these, even if you're careful what blogs, forums, and websites you visit. The best thing to do when this happens is to ignore them and don't respond to their baiting. (If a person is consistently bothering you or others, chances are he's a troll and you don't want to 'feed' the trolls. Trolls don't respond to reason or logic, since their purpose is to see how angry they can make you.)
To survive being a newb in any community, writing included, you need to find a safe place to learn and mingle with like-minded people. Scout these out carefully through research, exploration, and recommendations from others. A good place (forum, website, coffeehouse, etc) will be where you spend most of your time interacting with the community, so you want to know your way around it, know the atmosphere and the people who frequent it. This will take time in itself, so the research beforehand is a good idea.
To start you out, here are a few recommendations from me.
You can't go wrong with Alex J. Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers Support Group. They have a monthly blog hop where you can meet and mingle with other writers going through the same hurdles you are. You can also find them on Facebook (groups) and Twitter.
There are many hashtag chats on twitter where you can make helpful connections. The two I've been a part of are #kidlitchat (Tuesdays at 9pm EST), and #storycrafter (Sundays at 3pm EST). Storycrafter is a light, fun chat with writerly themes in Q&A format. It's open to all genres.
Finally, there's the Writers Chatroom which has topic chat Sundays at 7pm EST and open chat Wednesdays 8pm EST. The room is only open during scheduled chat times, but the people there are helpful and good at answering writing questions.
Once you've found a place, be friendly, humble, and willing to learn. These are the best qualities a newb could have to propel her out of newb status to leet. Take part in things, reach out to others, don't be afraid to try. If you fail in front of helpful people, they'll support you and encourage you to try again. Seek out someone who could become a good friend, a guide to the profession and its community or even someone just starting out like you. If you're blessed enough to find a mentor who knows the whole thing inside-out, that's great. Never turn down advice from someone who knows more than you do. You might not be able to use it now, but it's good to know for later.
To recap, this is How to Survive Being a Newb:
- Find a safe place to mingle and learn
- Be friendly, humble, and willing
- Make a friend
- Listen to advice (and thank them for it)
- Don't be afraid to try
If you have advice or recommendations for other newbs, please share it in the comments.