Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Helping the Home Team!

Writing can feel like a solitary job. We work in empty rooms populated with fictional characters, and travel great distances in desk chairs.  There are no bonuses. There are no paid vacations. Heck, most of the time, there isn’t much of a paycheck.

But we’re not really alone. Other writers are working the same job we’re working, moving through the same stages, feeling the same highs and lows. They know, and they understand.

Sometimes, it might seem like other writers are your competition. Not so. Your real competition is the computer, television, video games, movies—anything that pulls readers away from books and pushes them toward other mediums of distraction.   The truth is, there’s enough love in readers' hearts to spread among countless writers.

So here's the deal: other writers aren’t part of the opposing team; they're part of your home team. I've compiled a list of things each of us can do to help our teammates:
  • Write reviews for the books you read. It doesn’t have to be a book report like the ones we wrote in high school. Just a few sentences are enough to encourage a writer and maybe draw another reader to a good book.
  • Buy books. Buy magazines that include short fiction, serialized fiction, and poetry. 
  • You know those online short stories that require less than ten minutes to read? Take sixty seconds and comment on the ones you read. If there’s a rating system and you feel comfortable with it, rate them, too. Sometimes a few stars are the only encouragement a writer will receive on his work.
  • When you hear about quality markets that are looking for stories, tell your writing friends about them! Sharing a Table of Contents with folks you know is great fun.
  •  Most writers have blogs. Visit them. Read them. Comment!
  • Share your submissions, acceptances, and rejections on sites like The Grinder and Duotrope.  They help writers know what to expect—does a market take a hundred days to respond or twenty?  Have they accepted two stories in the past year or fifty? The more information writers have, the better decisions they can make about where to submit their work.
  • Tweet and Facebook for your favorite writers when they have a new book or story coming out. Participate in their launch day events.
  • I’ll bet you have a blog. That’s another awesome platform for promoting your fellow writers. 
Most of these suggestions take just a few minutes, but they can make a huge impact. Maybe the writers you help will help you someday. Maybe they won’t. The important thing is: Treat other writers the way you want to be treated.

P.S. If you have any helpful ideas that I haven't included here, please share them in the comment section and I’ll add them to this post.

16 comments:

  1. Writers are definitely my home team. I've never subscribed to the idea of us being in competition with each other. Good post, thanks.

    Jai

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    1. Thanks, Jai! Writers are my home team, too. :)

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  2. "home team" - love the way that description fits the writers I have the privilege to work with. Many good ideas here, Von. Thanks. -- judy

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    1. I feel the same way, Hawks! There are some talented and generous writers out there.

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  3. Great job Von! You are so right. The real competition isn't our fellow writers, it's that TV, media, and the like. Awesome ideas here. Well written and entertaining too.

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    1. Thank you, Lisa! I appreciate the feedback. Writers do have to stick together! :)

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  4. Excellent perspective and post, Von. That's what W1S1 is all about, I'd like to think.

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    1. Absolutely, Milo! W1S1 is all about writers supporting and encouraging one another. Everything I listed in this post I've seen practiced right here on site. :)

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  5. Nicely put, Von. Unfortunately, it's hard to convince anyone of doing anything (including myself). We use to have bloghops, to give everyone a virtual slap on the back for meeting their W1S1 goals. I use to participate, but became clear I was just wasting my time. Only visitor I ever see on my blog is Milo.

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  6. Hi Siobhan, I remember when we used to post a link to our blog and/or a piece we had published that month, made it much easier to visit blogs and comment on stories. Milo is awesome about keeping up with blogs and stories,etc. I want to be more like him.

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  7. It has never occurred to me to think of other writers as competition, but I do like the idea that the friendships we forge and the help we give each other by doing these sort of tasks makes us a team. I'm guilty of not always pulling my weight with book reviews though. It can be difficult to balance supporting a friend wholeheartedly with an honest review of a book that would otherwise not be my personal reading choice. I promise I'll try harder, Coach!

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    1. Rose, I think it's totally okay if you choose not to read and review books that are from a genre you don't like to read. There are plenty of other things on my list that are equally helpful. You're an awesome team player. Those book reviews can be tough-they intimidate me. So many of the reviewers over at Amazon write LONG reviews, and that's just not me. I've made a promise to myself that I will catch up on reviewing the books I've read w/o worrying so much about how everyone else writes their reviews.

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  8. What an awesome way to view our craft and our fellow writers, Von! I agree with Milo's comment that this is exactly what W1S1 is about-- someplace to get support when you're struggling and a pat on the back when you succeed, and to draw inspiration from fellow writers.

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    1. Absolutely, Dan! :) W1S1 ROCKS.

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  9. Great post, Von - as Milo says, that's what W1S1 is here for...

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    1. Thank you, Simon! And I definitely agree--having a place like W1S1 to depend on each week--whether your reporting a triumph or a rejection--makes everything better.

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