Find Your Writer Friends – Pants Optional

Writing is isolating. You know that and I know that. That’s why it’s important to get out in the world once in a while, hob nob with other writerly folks, get a little inspiration, make some friends, than disappear back into the writer cave. Those writer connections will help save you when you need to talk out a complicated plot, rejoice over a book deal, or vent about another rejection. And we’re lucky to be writing in the digital age, we can do this without ever leaving our caves and putting on real pants. So today, I’m going to talk about two of my favorite places to meet other writers – online writing contests (pantsless) and in-person writing conferences (pants required).

IGotNothing

 

PANTSLESS OPTION

This is the less scary of the two, yet still a great way to meet other writers. There are all sorts of contests. Colleen wrote about big writing contests where this is one winner, but I prefer the smaller blog and Twitter based ones. The goal of these contests is to get a request from an agent who likes your pitch and/or pages. While the potential agent response is lovely, it’s the supportive environment around the contests where other writers can see each other’s submissions and cheer each other on that I think is valuable. I’ve met a lot of writer friends through these events and learned so much from each of them.

My favorite online event is more involved than most – Brenda Drake’s Pitch Wars (of which I’m a mentor). Unlike others that take place over a day or maybe a week, Pitch Wars started with submissions in August and will end with a Pitch Showcase in early November where agents can make requests. What I love most about Pitch Wars is the emphasis on revision. Yes, the hope is each writer will get a request from an agent at the end, but most of it is about working one on one with an experienced mentor who has been there and can help rookie writers take their manuscript to the next level. I highly recommend checking it out. While only a handful of writers get picked, the commerdarie that pops up amongst all the writers is exciting and inspiring. It’s a great community.

And no pants required.

fillionpants

PANTS REQUIRED

While I know it can be scary to actually meet people in person, real life writer conferences are an ideal place. One, they are filled with people just like you – who aren’t exactly great at talking to strangers but really like books – so you’ll have a lot to talk about! Two, there is often booze, which can help with the first point – just be smart, you don’t want to be the one who barfs on an agent’s shoes. Three, it’s an ideal place to meet up with all those amazing writers you met via the online contests – I know I did.

pantsYou don’t have to put them on this way.

There a zillions of conferences to choose from, some small and local and others giant. I’d recommend something smaller for a first timer, unless you’re meeting up with friends.

My favorite conference is the Midwest Writers Workshop in Muncie, IN. It takes place during the last week in July every summer, and gives attendees a chance to pick the brains of some top-notch talent during break-out sessions, panel discussions, or over tacos and churros on Friday night (at least that’s what they served the last two years). Last year I followed around the editor of a regional magazine, getting tips on how to submit article ideas which I hope to translate into some freelance work. At a larger conference, I may have never seen this editor again, let alone been able to keep asking follow up questions. Attendees are an eclectic group of young, twenty-somethings to elderly women following a life-long dream. There are people just beginning their writing journey, and those with decades of experience they can’t wait to share. Every year, I leave inspired and awed by this amazing community, and wish it lasted another week.

So, dear reader, choose your pants comfort zone, then go forth and make writer friends.

 

evansnoPantsBonus Pantsless Gif:
I’m not even a little ashamed about including it. 

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Amy Reichert

Amy E. Reichert is the author of THE COINCIDENCE OF COCONUT CAKE (Simon & Schuster/Gallery, July 21 2015), about food, love, and second chances, and where serendipity comes in the form of a delicious coconut cake. Find out more at amyereichert.com.

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This article has 13 Comments

  1. Of course you know I’m a PW fan as well, and while I’ve yet to attend a writers conference (we have a distinct lack of these up here in Canada), I hope that changes in the next couple of years.

    1. COME TO MWW this summer!! Indiana isn’t that far away from you. According to Google maps, it’s about 8 hours. Or I could always pick you up at the Indianapolis airport. 🙂 Just let me know.

    1. Thanks Colleen – I was a little worried it might not be deemed appropriate for our lady-like site – but it did fit the theme of my post. 😉 And you should come to MWW too!!! Never mind you’ll have tiny babies – bring them – I’m good at cuddling little ones. 🙂 And the churros are tasty.

  2. Thanks for the love, Amy! We’re hard at work on faculty for MWW15, with confirmations from Julie Hyzy, D.E. Johnson, Heidi Schulz, and agents Brooks Sherman, Michelle Richter, and Christa Heschke. And we love our Canadian friends — two drove down last year. And Amy, you should totally come next year — and help with Pitching 101!

  3. My entire life plan involves not wearing pants ever again, so this post is right up my alley 😛 I owe a great deal to pitchwars, and I am excited to go to a writers conference sometime in the future. I can pretend to have charisma for 3-4 days at a time, as long as I can put my bathrobe back on and stop talking for a week after I get home.

    1. Come to Midwest Writers Workshop!!! I can pick you up at the airport. Plus, I bring cider and cheese for sharing. And you don’ t have to wear pants unless you want to – I won’t judge. 🙂

  4. Great post, Amy. (You had me at Nathan Fillion.) OK, seriously – I loved it all. I’m a big fan of both methods of meeting other authors myself (and mentored in PitchWars the last two years – I had to skip this year for a deadline but I’ll probably be back next year).

    I’ve met many close friends through both PitchWars and writers’ conferences (my vote goes to RMFW’s Colorado Gold, in Denver each September) and strongly encourage anyone interested in writing to find a conference and an online forum and get to meeting!

    1. Yay for Pitch Wars! I agree that finding your home conference is important. I have to thank Summer Heacock for getting me to MWW. It’s like the best summer camp!

  5. Late to the party but I can attest to the amazing-ness of contests like PitchWars, especially if you get Amy Reichert as your mentor 😉

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