This week at Writing Through Brambles, we had a genuine conversation about our interactions with others. We recognized that our greatest writing blocks come from unresolved conflict. Our genuine successes come from others building us up in ways we can't do on our own. Stories that we share with our friends and family quickly become our favorites. In essence, writing is deeply connected to our interaction with humanity.
Sometimes we think that writing is closing a door and getting a word count in for the day. Yes, that's important, but if kept sterile and solitary--- writing dies. We NEED human interaction to inspire us and propel us forward. Otherwise we lose our flavor for life and it shows. Once we pass through the door of publication, it's absolutely necessary to rally others around you.
So, what kind of people do you need in your life? Who is going to help you achieve your dreams?
Here are some critical groups that I believe you should seek out as a writer.
When it comes to finding support, there are two types you need:
1. People who care about you and your dreams.
My husband often says he doesn't know how to critique my stories, but he never hesitates to send me to a conference, listen to me brainstorm, or tuck in the boys when I have writing group. Because he cares about me, he helps me succeed. It is absolutely essential to have emotional support on days when you feel like the wall in front of you is too thick to break through. Take a moment and write down a few names that you know care about YOU enough to support your ambitions as a writer. Choose people who get excited with you, who hold you accountable, who love you. Those names are the ones you should turn to when you feel like celebrating, when you need advice, or even just encouragement.
2. People who love what you produce.
Think of these people as your professional colleagues; fellow readers and writers who are excited to connect with someone like-minded. These people support you by refining your craft, sharing your platform, and geeking out over words! Write down a few names of people you know who are also writing. If your list isn't as long as you want it to be, start commenting on author feeds on twitter, facebook or instagram. Building professional relationships online is wonderful. I know a few girls that I email/text/call regularly, even though I've never met them in person. We exchange pages and offer advice. It's fun. I finally met one of them at a conference last year and we immediately joked around like old friends. She even helped me get into a full pitch session with her connections. When you invest in other's professional lives, you genuinely begin to care about their success.
After writing for two years, I recognized I needed a writing group. On the way to my first conference, I remember gripping the steering wheel and praying "If anything happens here, please let me find my people!" In one of the first lectures, Bree Moore sat next to me. She pointed to my itinerary and laughed. "Your schedule looks exactly like mine." The similarities didn't stop there. We quickly found we wore identical shoes, hoodies, and wedding rings. That brief moment of connection was enough for her to invite me to lunch with Writing Through Brambles. Ever since then, I have been so grateful God answered my prayer.
So, how do you find a writers group?
"So. Confessions post. I only achieved 15 hours of the 65 that I set for my editing goal in November. 15.
And I'm ashamed, I am. I'm fully aware that the only one who can hold me back is myself and that's what happened this November. No excuses.
After going through some nifty avoidance behaviors I finally buckled down and made myself go to writing group to confess my short comings. And you know what? They dug deep with me and talked me through some walls I had put up.
I walked away from feeling so rejuvenated!
It's been a week and a half and I've done my editing every single night! And it wasn't even beat my head on the keyboard awful. It was so productive! Dare I say it- it was even a little fun.
So, thank you girls. Thanks for not giving up on me when I'm ready to throw in the towel. You'll make an author out of me yet." -Amanda Hakes
Now that I'm nearing "Shattered Snow's" release date, I have been feeling a little nervous about spreading the word about my debut novel. Marketing is all about starting chain reactions. Can I start enough ripples to take my novel to the places I want it to go? To face these fears, my publisher recommended building a street team.
What is a street team?
After publication, a street team is a special task force that helps you promote your book. They have the ability to start a butterfly effect in ways you can't. They use the internet, local libraries, personal recommendations, and street corners to broadcast your work. They can do anything from sharing a social media post to helping you host a release party.
How do I find a street team?
Facebook is a really useful tool. I invited friends to participate in challenges and earn swag. I had people from every phase of my life respond. Friends, leaders, teachers, family, fellow authors... There were plenty of people I care about who wanted to help. Better yet, these are people who are already involved on social media, so reaching out to others is something they're already engaged in.
The trick with assembling a street team is to only take people who want to be a part of your team. If you pressure people into helping you, big surprise, they won't. But, when others are already excited about helping you, it makes a big difference! People want to feel a part of your journey as an author, so building a street team enables them to do exactly that.
What can my street team do?
The first week, I based my challenges on improving my Goodreads account. People followed my author page, put my book on the 'want to read' list, and recommended the book to friends they thought might be interested via the app. The second week, they helped me improve SEO for my website. As time goes by and the release date for "Shattered Snow" nears, I'll continue to come up with new challenges and new prizes.
A tip about street team challenges:
When you make challenges, keep them free, quick, and optional. Demanding monetary investments in your book will drive friends away. But, showing them how to rate a book on Amazon, how to follow your profiles, etc... Those things only cost a click.
Also, keep tasks flexible. I usually say 1 point per click and give them the option to do as much or as little as they want. Keeping challenges to under five minutes means they're more likely to get done.
I've had a lot of fun with my street team and they have genuinely made a difference in my pre-sale presence. I'm working on formatting some street team documents for next year as a free printable. If you have any questions, suggestions, or things that have worked for you, shoot me a message and I'll try to answer them or include them in my documents! You can use the banner I made below in creating your own facebook street team group.
These three groups of support are meant to benefit you emotionally, creatively, and professionally. Becoming an author is a steep learning curve, so having people to rally behind you during the ups and downs is absolutely critical! Let other people in on your dreams. Don't be ashamed to tell them your goals. Find your people! Rally your friends who tell you to dream big! Thank your supporters who shout your accomplishments from the rooftops! Listen to your friends who bug you to finish your next book so they can stop wondering what happens!
You deserve those kind of people in your life.
-Written by Rachel Huffmire
Join Writing Through Brambles at the LTUE Writers Conference!
Fantastic Writing Groups and Where to Find Them
Date: Friday, February 15
Session 1 @12:00 PM (What is a writing group? How do I find one?)
Session 2 @ 1:00 PM (Taking your writers group to the next level.)
Location: Provo Marriott, 101 W 100 N, Provo, Utah 84601
More information about the conference can be found at ltue.net.
We're all writers, we're all moms, writing our way through the "brambles" of life and our stories.