Meet My Writer Friends (And How to Get Your Own)

Hmm. That title sounds kinda harsh and possessive, doesn’t it?

free 'group' hugsThat’s because these are my writer friends and I’m not sharing (kidding). It’s really because, like all communities, each one is different. The people you click with might not be the same people I click with, but the point is, find the people who are right for you.

Since there’s no real formula to writer friendmaking (though Lori has some great tips to set you in the right direction) I thought I’d share a bit about my writing tribe, how we met, and why we’ve hit it off. Maybe it’ll inspire you to chat up someone new on twitter, or attend that writer’s conference you’ve been on the fence about?

My writers’ group: I feel lucky to have had not one, not two, but three groups of writers whom I trust to give honest and valuable feedback on my work. They’ve changed over time because I’ve moved over the years and nothing beats getting together in person. With my current group, we meet once a month, read one person’s WIP ahead of time, and spend a couple of hours sharing a meal, catching up on each others’ lives, and offering our feedback. It’s invigorating and therapeutic, and I don’t know what I’d do without these ladies who are not just my first readers, but my friends. Each group I’ve been a part of is completely different, but you know what they all have in common? We met at a writer’s conference. Writer’s conferences are a perfect place to mingle with like-minded writers who are just as committed to writing as you are.

My twitter and blogging buds: When I started tweeting in 2010, some of the first people I connected with were fellow freelance writers Mahesh Raj Mohan and Princess Jones. We related to each other as self-employed writers, then discovered a common appreciation for things like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, fiction, and Sour Patch Kids. When I started blogging, I stumbled across Melissa Cryzter Fry‘s blog, Julia Munroe Martin‘s, Hallie Sawyer‘s, and Nina Badzin‘s. I forget who introduced me to whom, (I know Twitter had a lot to do with it) but these are just a few of the writers I consider my friends. Over the years, we’ve written each other snail mail, read each other’s WIPs, and confided in one another for writing advice. While writing is a common thread we share, I’ve realized that what really makes people click is something less tangible. It can be that you laugh at the same joke, or share a similar outlook on life, or have felt the same fears. As in real-life, social media is great for that initial intro, but the real connections are built through a mixture of chemistry and the simple act of being there for one another. 

Local writers: To echo Lori’s advice: go to author readings. Just last week, I went to a local reading and got to meet not only the author, but other writers who had also come to show their support. A few drinks and a couple of “what do you write” questions later, I’d met four members of the local literary community whom I’d only known about online. You know how they say the book is always better than the movie? Well, the person is always better than the online persona. My new friends have since introduced me to their writer friends and invited me to more events. I couldn’t have asked for a warmer welcome.

The Debs: I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Before we became The Debs, many of us had maybe interacted with one other once or twice on Twitter. But we very quickly became close friends who are on this crazy journey together, every step of the way. That’s because as much fun as we have on the blog, we have even more fun behind the scenes: we email and chat and joke and vent and cheer each other on when it’s time to celebrate and when it’s time to tackle a problem. I’m so grateful to the 2013 Debs for bringing us together.

You’ve met my writing friends, now it’s your turn. Introduce me to some of yours. (I promise I won’t steal them.) 

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Natalia Sylvester

Natalia Sylvester is the author of the novel CHASING THE SUN (Lake Union/New Harvest, June 2014), about a frail marriage tested to the extreme by the wife's kidnapping in Lima, Peru. A former magazine editor, she now works as a freelance writer in Texas. Visit her online at nataliasylvester.com

19 thoughts on “Meet My Writer Friends (And How to Get Your Own)

  1. How sweet of you to mention so many of us by name, Natalia. I agree, though, that there is some ‘intangible’ force at work that allows for people to ‘click’ – even in social media settings. I’m still waiting for the day we can meet in person. You and your debut should head to Tucson for the Tucson Festival of Books! 😉 Hint, hint.

  2. I feel so fortunate to have found you on Twitter/blogging, Natalia (and like you, I don’t remember the specific course of introductions but I know it did involve Melissa, Hallie, Nina, & Mahesh, too, all of whom I count on still for writer support). What a lucky day it was for me however it happened because I don’t have an IRL writer group. It’s been more than wonderful to have your support and friendship so I’m quite glad it’s a two way street! I find the online community of writers to be a daily necessity for me, and I’d add Erika Marks (@erikamarksauthr) as a true blue indispensible friend as well as Mia March (@March_Mia) who I met online and turns out to live literally around the corner from me, the wonderful Shary Hover (@sharyhover), and @jackiecangro who writes a fabulous blog! I also have been very lucky recently to meet a couple of local writers… who knows, maybe a local writer’s group is in my future?!

    • Such a great list, Julia. I’m familiar with all of these writers and I can see why they’d be such great friends to have. It really was a lucky day when we all met, wasn’t it? I think having an online community is just as important as having a local one. Why limit ourselves by place when we can make connections based on so much more?

    • As strange as this sounds (because I don’t remember much of ANYTHING these days), I do recall how the two of you met — and the post that spawned it. Natalia had written a post about cooking with her mother, and I had just read Julia’s post about fond memories in the kitchen with HER mother, and I introduced the two of you due to the similarities! But, naturally, that connection probably would have happened one way or the other, because somehow – despite how massive the Twitter network is – it actually is quite small in many ways. Hard to believe those introductions happened three — going on four — years ago!

      • I love that you remember that, Melissa! And now that you mention it, it all comes back to me. Julia and I still tend to post about similar topics when we’re not even planning on it. A little bit of blogging EPS, perhaps?

  3. I love being a part of The Ball, and I’m so glad we’re in each others’ writing tribes.

    I can’t get over how important my writing social life has become. When I imagine quitting fiction (strange thought, I know–just as a thought exercise), I feel bereft. I’d miss my writing comrades too much!

    • I agree. And I can’t imagine feeling as motivated without the camaraderie and accountability of our community.

  4. I am SO grateful to Julia and her blog because I believe that is where I found you, Natalia. I think. Or is it the other way around? Hell, who knows. The important thing is we are friends, the lot of us, and I can’t imagine my life without you gals. Your support, emails, snail mail, Twitter chats, and “likes” are like salve on a wound. Like a balm on chapped skin. Like a warm blanket in a biting wind. I could go on and on!
    My point is that you guys are always there when I need you and will treasure you always. I can’t wait until we meet in person some day and when that day comes…WATCH OUT! Until then, virtual hugs all around! xxoo~H

    • Aw, group hug! I love how we all know each other without really knowing exactly how it all came about. I’m just so happy it did!

      And yes, when that day comes and we all meet…there won’t be enough champagne to express our excitement!

  5. What a lovely post, 🙂 Thank you for the mention and kind words, NS! I owe knowing both Julia and MCF to you (you had them listed on Follow Friday, I believe), and I think PJ, too, as well as Emily Suess, both of whom led me to folkslike Jake Poinier. It’s like Six Degrees of Twitter Friending, 😉 But seriously, your friendship has meant a lot, too.

    And the Debutante Ball concept is sheer brilliance. I think it’s going to build a tremendous base for Chasing the Sun and each author’s work. Go you!

    • I like that: Six Degrees of Twitter Friending. It really does feel like all our friends know one another, right? Every once in a while I’ve had it happen that two people I really enjoying tweeting with finally get to meet thanks to me introducing them…that’s a really cool moment.

      Thanks for the congrats on The Deb Ball! I have to humbly agree that it IS sheer brilliance 😉

  6. The thing I like about online interactions (among other things) is that you can connect with people who you might never meet (or wouldn’t click with) in person. I used to enjoy this on the BBSs, back before the Web existed, and it’s still true today.

    (One time, we had a dinner outing of members of a local BBS, and there we were in the restaurant — white, Puerto Rican, Japanese, Chinese, male and female, ranging in age from 18 to over 70 (I think our Orthodox Jewish friend skipped that event). When we were on the sidewalk outside, saying goodbye, someone came up and said, “I have to ask, how did such a diverse group get together?”

    “Online.” 🙂

    As you say, it’s not something that any list of interests or compatibilities is going to tell you. For example, all of my best blog buddies write in very different genres than I do (not even counting all the time I spend on movie blogs).

    • I completely agree, Anthony. I was just talking about this last week with some online friends during a Google Hangout. We are all so different in ethnicity, age, profession, etc., and yet we chat online every few weeks about writing. In a way, the internet has a nice way of stripping us of our labels, and allowing us to connect based on things that are far more important, like what we have to say.

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