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Friday, June 29, 2012

No Writer Is An Island

I am a writer. This I've known all my life. What I only recently realized is that I am also an entrepreneur.

When I’m not writing or taking care of Daniel, I work with my dad, supporting his financial services business. At our office, new financial reps start each month; some of them make it, many don’t. It’s a job that requires initiative, persistence, and belief in what you’re doing. While telling my dad about the Philadelphia Writers Conference that I attended this month, he remarked that I was like the new reps, starting a business, but without the structure and support they have. I felt that internal click of a realization: I am an entrepreneur. I hadn’t thought about writing that way before. I enjoy the art of writing, but if I want this to be my career, it behooves me to think about it like a business also.

Before the conference, I had been looking for something to help my writing, I just wasn’t sure what. As I sat in the opening session, listening to bestselling author Jonathan Maberry describe how much writers benefit from supporting each other, I almost cried, realizing how lonely I had felt in my writing life. With my dad’s observation that I was like a new rep, I realized that it made perfect sense that I needed guidance, help, training, mentoring. Any newbie would. And if I can find those things, I have a much better chance of staying in the game long enough to succeed.

Realizations are nice and all, but now I need to put some things in place. At the conference I learned about monthly networking meetings for writers, and I plan on attending those. I discovered an active local listserv, and signed up for that. Those feel like two steps in the right direction. I also loved Maberry’s suggestion of using a timer, spending 10 minutes doing social networking for every 50 minutes of writing. These were the kind of specific suggestions I took away with me.

How do you connect with people in your chosen field? Any entrepreneurs out there? What are your support systems? How do you create support, find encouragement and learn about your field? This newbie appreciates your suggestions.


  1. Julie:

    I am a newbie in my field of HR and OD and I read blogs daily by people who are in the field. It's not that they teach me new things... they validate my instincts about people and work.

    In terms of writing, I had a similar experience as yours when I attended a writer's weekend retreat at the shore a few years ago. It was so enlightening being with people who love to write. I learned that you have to really work at being a writer... really commit to the daily writing time and discipline. You can learn a lot from people who are navigating the writing world. I can't say that I have followed what I observed at that weekend retreat, but I know that is the path to success.

    Glad you are listening and following a path. Hope your writing dreams come true.

  2. Yikes! What timing, Julie! I was thinking along the same lines. Writing can be very solitary,but writers don't have to be. I have been looking for outlets for my voice as well as the companionship of writers. Let me know your ideas and I'll let you know mine. Most of all, keep writing!

  3. I am an absolute fam of writing support groups - they do so much more than critique. Early on, a wise writer told me support groups are less about telling you what is wrong with your writing, and more about helping you stay motivated to become the best writer you can be.
    and yes, more today then when I started writing fiction almost 15 years ago, writers who want to get published must learn the business side of writing. It can be a challenging push and pull-every minute spent marketing, learning to self-pub etc. is a minute I am not writing. I like the timer suggestion

  4. I appreciated your post. Although I am not looking to make a living from writing, I do think it would be helpful to me to treat it like a "side business". I think that would help me to set particular goals and stick to them. If I was working a second job I would have set hours and couldn't just blow it off because I felt like doing something else.
    As for networking... I know a few other writers and I have attended the North Wildwood Beach Writers Conference a couple of times, but that's it so far. I do really enjoy talking with other writers. There's something about the writing process that non-writers can't fully understand, but other writers do.
    I think it's great that the four of you have teamed up to do this blog. I would imagine that you encourage and inspire each other wiht your collaboration.
    Are you familiar with Hope Clark and Funds For Writers? Her newsletter is about writing oppportunities but also about workshops or conferences sometimes. That might be a source of information for you.

  5. p.s. There's something mortifying about not catching a typo in time when sending a message to a writer and about writing! :-)

  6. Been there with typo's
    Thanks for the link

  7. Thanks, ladies for all the thoughts. And Rachel, thanks for the link to funds for writers. I am not familiar with that, and will check it out. Good luck with your work, and I encourage everyone to check out the Philly Writers Conference next year. It was awesome!