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.