December 21, 2012

no. 12: make writing a team sport

Blogger's Note: Ginormous thanks go out to the 11 amazing and wonderful guest bloggers who shared their expertise with us during the past three weeks. Thanks, also, to all of you for following this year's 12 Days of Writing series and for all of you who shared the post with your friends, fans and followers on social media. My cup seriously runneth over, y'all. Now, be sure to leave a comment on this post so I can enter you in a prize drawing.

Alone, we are determined and talented writers.
But when our powers combine, we become, like, super awesome and powerful.

No. 12: Make Writing a Team Sport

By Me!
Founder of Change the Word, aspiring author, social media junkie and occasional hot mess

I went to a writing conference a few years ago, and one of the tips the guest author made was this: writing is something you have to do by yourself. You're going to have to say no to social outtings and shut yourself away from the world to meet your writing goals.

When I decided to get serious about becoming a writer, I took this advice to heart. I would shut myself away from people for weeks at a time, barely hanging out on my beloved social media. But just like every time I have tried to make extreme changes to my diet (like cutting carbs) or waking up at 5:30 for an exercise regiment, I quickly burned out. What can I say? I'm a relatively social person. I need to be around people to be inspired and happy.

So I started this blog. Using it as a platform, I reached out to others who shared my interest in reading and writing via Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads and so on. Slowly, but surely, I built up my network of readers and writers, and every time I make another connection, I add another person's experience to mine.

Through social media, our world has become even more connected. Instead of boring your existing family and friends to death about a new development for your character or your struggle to come up with a title, you can turn to your writing entourage to help you.

The 11 other writers who shared their tips the past three weeks are evidence of the wealth of knowledge waiting for any aspiring or working writer. They're also an example of the supportive community out there for writers. When I had the idea to open the 12 Days of Writing to fellow writers this year, I hoped I would be able to find enough people willing to help out to fill half the days. Imagine my thrilled surprised when everyone said yes.

Here's the big kicker: They only represent part of my writing entourage. How cool is that?

So my advice to all of you, based on trying the writing game solo and as part of a team is this: build your network, make friends and never be afraid to ask help. Join an online writing community like Savvy Authors or World Literary Cafe. Start or join a Facebook group for writers/readers in your genre. Participate in Twitter networking opportunities like Chick Lit Chat or publishers' Twitter pitches. Get on Goodreads.

Follow the writers you admire -- both big name and ones beginning their careers -- on all of these social media avenues. If you are a fan of someone's writing, don't be afraid to tell them. Heck, I tagged E L James in a few tweets last May when I did a Reading in the Kitchen series based on foods in her Fifty Shades trilogy. She not only retweeted me, but sent me a couple of nice messages.

That's me on the left with my little sister, sporting our
homemade holiday gear for our sixth annual ugly sweater
contest, held last weekend. I won best worst dressed lady!
At the same time, I've kept in touch with each of the authors and bloggers featured in this series, because I admired their work. Each of them has come back to help me at some point, even beyond writing a guest post. From sharing my blog posts with their followers to shooting the breeze with me about what hunky man they'd like to case in the screen adaptation of their film (Spoiler alert: It's often Ryan Gosling), they're part of my community.

Start a local book or writing club. Participate in National Novel Writing Month. Hold write-ins with your writer friends at home or coffee shops. Mob mentality has its moments.

Do whatever it takes to find people to share the journey with you. You'll find you are just as excited to hear when one of them lands a book contract, receives a great review or gets a new job as they are for you when you do the same. They'll be your coach, your teammate, your cheerleader and your fan. It's a wonderful feeling to know you are not alone.

Yes, there are still evenings where I have to turn off the phone and Internet to get some writing done, but you better believe I'll be commiserating with one of my writing buddies the moment I go on break.

So with that, I'd like to share the links to the other posts in this series in case you missed them, and offer you my sincerest wishes for a safe and happy holiday season and new year to you and your family.

The 12 Days of Writing 2012
No. 1: Eight Tips for Eight Days of Hanukkah by Jackie Pilossoph
No. 2: Make Your Story Talk by Lauren Clark
No. 3: Writin' Around the Christmas Tree by Nancy Scrofano
No. 4: Improve Your Writing by Laurel Osterkamp
No. 5: Challenge Yourself by Tracie Banister
No. 6: Listen Up to Write Better Dialogue by Cynthia Hill
No. 7: Market Your Author Brand by Dina Silver
No. 8: Five Resolutions for Authors by Heather Wardell
No. 9: Find Balance by Kathleen Kole
No. 10: Anatomy of a Book Review by Kaley Stewart

Comment on this post by 12 p.m. CDT Sun., Dec. 23 for one entry in the week's prize package. Each pack includes at least three print books and other swag. You can comment on each 12 Days of Writing post to increase your chances of winning.

BONUS ENTRY: "Like" Change the Word on Facebook and/or leave a note on the wall. If you already like CTW, go ahead and post a message for your extra entry.

The winner will be announced here on the blog, on FB and on Twitter Dec. 23 at 4 p.m. CDT. You'll have 24 hours to get in touch with me or another winner will be drawn.

Check back the rest of this week for more chances to win the week one 12 Days of Writing Giveaway.

***Contest limited to U.S. and Canada residents, only***

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  1. This series has been amazing. I learned so much. Thanks for putting it together, Laura!

    1. Thank you for following the journey. You do such an amazing job supporting fellow writers and bloggers. You are exactly the type of person a girl would want in her writing entourage.

  2. Love this post, Laura. You're my favourite hot mess ;) I think the relationships you've started are an excellent indication of why social media is so important. Where would you and I be without it? :) Thanks again for including me in this year's 12 Days of Writing. It really means a lot!

    1. And you're such a good virtual bestie. I'm glad you were part of this experience, and I'm thrilled for you and the new adventure awaiting you in 2013.

  3. I've thoroughly enjoyed this series -- thanks very much to you and all of your guest bloggers! As an aspiring/newbie writer myself, I look forward to hearing the best from those who have been there or are going there with me :).

    1. I'm glad you enjoyed this series, Barb. Good luck with your writing ventures. I'm sure we'll see you at one of the writers tables at Laurapalooza 2015!

  4. What a cool post to wrap up your 12 days of writing, Laura! It's so true. There's a wonderfully fun and helpful network of authors out there.

    Loved reading these posts! Sadly I didn't get to all of them, but I'll come back and read them soon when things calm down a little. Happy holidays!!!

    1. Isn't it fun to find all of these people on the Interwebs? I hope you will take a look at the other posts when you get a chance -- lots of good advice. I also look forward to reading your latest novel during my holiday break!

  5. Great post and a great series! Thanks for organizing it. Merry Christmas!