Do You Have a Writer’s Support Network?


24533068_sWho is in your writer’s support network? I don’t mean a group of writers that get together and share; I mean the people in your life who encourage and support you in your dream of being a published author.

Not everyone can say they have a strong network and I’m here to tell you that surrounding yourself with supportive people is critical for your ability to be successful.

How many of you have told your immediate family that you want to write the “Great American Novel” and were met with snickers or sneers? It is this negativity, no matter how innocent, that can derail your writing.

So listen closely to my advice – ditch them. Walk away. Move out of town. If not literally, then figuratively. Tell them to take a walk off a short pier and then replace them with people who believe in your abilities as a writer.

Okay, so maybe you can’t really ditch them, however, you can recognize the fact that their lack of support really will negatively impact your writing. So love them, but don’t look to them for encouragement with your writing.

Recognizing Passive Aggressive Support

Be aware of the people in your life who belief they are being supportive but are really chipping away at your writer’s self-confidence. They may start by praising you for your bravery at taking on the task of writing but then use words like “daunting task,” “Impossible dream,” “Never saw you as someone who followed through.” Or they may volunteer to read your most recent chapter and then praise your work out of one side of their mouth while tearing down the plot points with the other. A true supportive person will be there for you, encourage you, offer suggestions in a kind way and bring the wine when writer’s block looms its ugly head. Keep the one…ditch the other. (ditch the passive aggressive person, not the wine)

Developing Your Personal Writer’s Support Network

Once you have identified the fact that there may be people close to you who are not your greatest writing allies, you need to find people who are. Some say, “Oh, I’ll just write in secret and not tell anyone at all until I am done.”

To that I say “Pish, Posh!”

Surrounding yourself with people who encourage you along the way is an important part of the writing process. All you have to do is read the lengthy writer’s acknowledgements to know that it took a village to help bring their book to the shelves.

Look around you and identify those that could be part of your network. It may, in fact, be other writers, or it might be close friends or neighbors who just simply believe in you.

Building your support network as a writer is no different than building a support network for your business career. I recently ran across an article in Entrepreneur Magazine that offered five tips for building your network:

  1. Be bold about reaching out.
  2. Host social events.
  3. Organize informal opportunities to talk shop.
  4. Give more than you ask to receive.
  5. Make time for old friends.

Tip one is really a great one. Who do you admire as writer? Reach out to them. I cannot tell you how many writers I have written to who have responded. If I am a particular fan of a writer’s style, I will not hesitate to send them an email or drop them a note to say thanks. You’d be surprised to find how many are thrilled to hear from you and are even willing to carry on a virtual friendship.

We might view other writers as rock stars but most people don’t and so chances are, your favorite writers rarely receive fan mail. Just imagine how you would feel if you received a fan letter!

I also love tip five: Make time for old friends. Connect with your old friends, grab a coffee or a drink and get caught up. Facebook was practically made for the purpose of reconnecting with our long, lost high school pals. You might be surprised to find them becoming a renewed friend and the president of your support network.

Supporters Are Great Marketers

Remember how important word-of-mouth advertising is to making a name for you and your book? Just imagine how vocal your support network will be once your book is self-published. Consider mentioning them in your acknowledgements, offer to give them a free, signed copy and then ask them to help spread the word.

The best marketers are satisfied readers and your support network will be the most satisfied. Afterall, they can say they personally helped your novel reach the readers! They baked you muffins, babysat your kids, took out your trash or read your book as it was written and without them, your book would still be a dream.

Bottom Line:  Take time to examine those who are close to you. Identify those who will support and encourage and make sure you embrace them as your personal support network as you write.