There’s nothing worse than struggling away on your own, with no idea whether your writing is great, good, OK, not so good, or bloody awful. We all need feedback and support. From the very start of my writing career, I actively searched for support.
The first critique group I joined was ERWA, an online forum for readers and writers of erotica (https://www.erotica-readers.com/). Through them, I was introduced to the craft of writing, how to critique other writers’ work, and, even more important, how to take criticism. Along the way, I made some good friends who continue to support me and my work (and vice versa!). I started to build my tribe.
My next experience of collaboration was with a group of writers publishing erotic novellas. Every two months we’d publish a themed collection of four novellas. I learned a great deal about self-publishing, writing fast, editing and the importance of a good contract! I never saw a single cent from that exercise but did add to my tribe.
The issue with building a tribe on social media is that when apps go out of fashion, or collapse under the weight of their own hubris, friends and contacts melt away or are lost overnight. Sometimes they turn up in new places, but not always.
Having gained some confidence on the internet, I ventured out into the real world of Melbourne and joined Writers Victoria. This is a large organisation, not designed to provide or set up individual critique or writing groups. What they do well, is offer superb workshops for their members. While in Melbourne, I did my best to enrol in two of their weekend workshops per year. Despite my best efforts, I was never able to convert great rapport with other participants into an ongoing mutual support group. I did follow the workshop presenters on various social media platforms though, and some of those have grown into friendships and opened doors to publishing possibilities. So yay, my tribe grew in an unexpected way.
I also started going to writers’ conferences and festivals to network in person. Friends I made at my first ever writers conference, have been of invaluable help in promoting my stories over the last few years. Sometimes, the reward takes years to arrive, but the effort is worth it.
When I left Melbourne in 2019, I had low expectations for literary support in my new home, Tauranga. I was very wrong! Tauranga Writers Group is the longest running writing group in Aotearoa / New Zealand, only a few years younger than me!
For the first time, I have an in-person critique group, and it’s made an enormous difference to my writing. I’ve had more stories published in the last four years than I had in all my time in Melbourne.
I’ve also joined SpecFicNZ and the NZ Society of Authors, both organisations offer support and learning opportunities.
Writing isn’t a competition. I’d be horrified if my success came at the expense of someone else’s career! Along our writing journey, we learn our craft, share our successes and our failures, we teach, we nurture talent, and we offer our advice. We should promote each other’s work, share opportunities, and offer relentless support to each other.
I’m grateful to my tribe and everything they’ve given to help me grow and improve. I do my best to pay forward what I learn and share my experiences.
If you’re feeling isolated – reach out. You’re not alone.