Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Finding Your Tribe

I forget how old I was when I realized that not everyone has characters talking in their heads all the time. It came as quite a surprise to me because I've had them for as long as I can remember - random bits of dialogue and setting and scenarios. It's not something I conjure up on purpose or even pay much attention to - it's just there on a low-level hum in the back of my brain. Other writers will know what I'm talking about, but the world at large will not, and it was a shocker to me to find out that I was part of a very select group.

Truth be told, yes, writers are weird. We've got stuff going on in our heads that no one else would believe, and sometimes we need to let some of it out. But who can we talk to? Other people may try to understand. Our spouses may hear us out for a little bit. But unless they are writers too, there's a bit of a disconnect there, a lack of *really* getting it. It's kind of like a sports fanatic trying to share his love of football with someone who knows nothing about the game. The friend will be supportive because they have a relationship, but they're likely to just smile and nod a lot.

If you're a writer seeking to find understanding, you're not alone. Many authors find themselves feeling adrift in their personal lives, feeling that no one understands them. At iWriteNetwork, we strive to create a place where writers can come and feel as though they are heard and understood - sometimes you just need to talk to other writers. Conferences are also great places to surround yourself with those who speak your same language. In addition, if you go onto Facebook, you can find groups dedicated to supporting writers along their journey. Critique groups are awesome for this very thing, and organizations like the League of Utah Writers (for people in Utah, of course) and ANWA (an LDS women's group) and Indie Author Hub can all fill in those holes. You can find groups in your area by Googling.

Writing is a solitary profession by its nature, but it doesn't have to be. We can find others who understand where we're coming from so we have a place to brainstorm and get feedback and not have to explain what we mean when we use words like "foreshadowing" and "galley" and "exposition". (Or a place to go to ask what those words mean.) Look around and find your tribe. Writers with a good support system tend to go farther in their careers than those without.


Donna K. Weaver said...

I love this concept of the tribe. I heard it first from James Owen and it rang so true then. Just what I needed after that disheartening one-star review. Thanks, Tristi.

Laura D. Bastian said...

We are a strange bunch, but I love that there are people out there in the world who are just as strange as I am. And who will help me plan out ways to make my beloved characters miserable. Most non-writers just look at me like I'm nuts.

Tristi Pinkston said...

We can all be weird together!! :)