Do you remember the first day of grade-school? First and second grade, maybe? Did you worry no one would talk to you, that you wouldn’t have any friends? Did sitting in class, learning and doing your work, change your mind?
I’m asking because I’ll bet it didn’t. I’ll bet what changed your mind was recess. Swinging next to someone, playing 4-square and basketball, climbing the monkey bars …
I think it’s the same way with grown-ups. We connect over lunch, shopping, drinks … How we play is different, but we still play.
I believe that sense of play can rejuvenate your enthusiasm for writing. I believe it because it’s working for me.
Last year I entered Harlequin’s So You Think You Can Write. Anyone who wants can submit a first chapter for a chance to win publication. It’s all public, anyone can read and comment on your submission. (And it’s almost time for this year’s SYTYCW. Hint, hint.) I didn’t make it past the first round, but I got something better.
Friends. Authors just like me. Romance writers struggling for publication, women who write around their day jobs and families, who are committed to learning their craft. Women from all over the world with tremendous talent and great senses of humor. And we … play. We remind ourselves to have fun with our writing. Weekly snippets from WIP draw comments and suggestions … and giggles and snorts. We cheer each other on, celebrate our victories, and empathize over rejections.
SYTYCW also got me to break the Twitter barrier. In the past I’ve talked a lot about Twitter contests, but there are always writing hashtags to follow. One of my recent favorites is 1LineWed, which is promoted by Kiss of Death (the mystery/romantic suspense chapter of RWA). Every Wednesday there’s a theme, and you can post one line from your current WIP on that theme. It’s a big party of posting, retweeting, and liking. My Twitter base grows every week now, and it’s filling with writers like me (or better than me). It’s encouraging to put even one line out and have people like it.
Harlequin has a new way to connect. Every two weeks their SOLD blog posts a writing challenge. It gives you a chance to write a scene based on the prompt. Take a break, chase a plot bunny, and get editorial feedback. Read what others are posting, comment on their posts … connect.
Or sometimes it’s just basic. RWA is sponsoring The End Writing Challenge. Post your word count goal for each month, then keep up with how many words you write. Meet your goal (or exceed it) and post your accomplishment (and win prizes). Then reset for the next month and do it again. And there’s a mailing list for the writers participating.
Writing can be lonely, yes. Sometimes it needs to be lonely. (If you’ll remember, I crawled into a virtual cave a few months ago.) However, we got into this because it was fun. It’s easy to lose sight of that when you’re in the rejection cycle. Stretch your muscles, build your confidence, make some friends. Play.
I’m on vacation. So I’m going to go play. Y’all have fun.