Writing can be a lonely business. Social networking can help us break a sense of isolation, but only in a virtual way. One of the best ways for writers to connect is to become active in professional writer’s organizations. These groups, such as ITW (International Thriller Writers), MWA (Mystery Writers of America), and SiC (Sisters in Crime), have national and local chapter meetings and events that serve many useful purposes, including networking, advice, and support.
To get full benefit from the organizations, it’s important to become active, not just attend meetings. Several writers on this blog are active in national and local writer’s organizations. I’ve been a member of the board of the Southern California Chapter of MWA for the past year, and I recently became the Program Chair. Our first program of 2010 was “Tales from the Publishing Trenches.” It featured Kristen Weber, a former Senior Editor at Penguin Group (and my former editor), who regaled a packed house with stories and advice about the real world of NY editing. Kristen was interviewed by bestselling author Patricia Smiley (Kristen is pictured on the left, below. Patricia is on the right).
When you become actively involved with your writing organization, you contribute, make contacts and get your name out in the public. As a writer, I am capable of going long periods of time with little human contact except for my family and cats (who think they’re human). If nothing else, attending the meetings makes me drag my butt out of the house.
I’d be interested to hear about your experiences with professional writers’ organizations. How active have you been, and have you found the groups to be helpful or enjoyable?