Writing Romance: The Ultimate Guide on Craft, Creation and Industry Connections is a long name for a short book. At only 136 pages, it is packed with helpful tips for writing, no matter the genre you are in. The anthology, created by the San Francisco Area of Romance Writers of America, has almost fifty articles created by professional writers to help with where you are at. Are you stuck on plot or character development? There are articles for that. Do you want to write but just can’t find the time in a busy schedule? There are articles for that. Are you ready for marketing your work? There are articles for that. You get the idea. . .For other authors’ reflections on this book, look for links at the bottom of this post.
“No one who’s successful got there on her own,” according to Elizabeth Edwards, romance author and singer/songwriter, in her piece Mentors and Professional Organizations Can Benefit Your Career. She succinctly outlines the benefits of why someone should find a mentor and join a professional organization: copying success, learning from other’s mistakes and networking opportunities.
I’ll be honest, had I read Elizabeth’s article two years ago, I would not have done as she advised.
I’ve been thinking of this writing thing for years-probably since the time I got my first gold star on a short story I wrote in 3rd grade. Fast forward thirty years to last year. I had a conversation with a new relative (there was a wedding), who happened to be a published romance author. She nudged me just enough to go from only dreaming about becoming a writer to actually taking that first step.
She told me to join the local chapter of Romance Writers of America.
I took her advice more out of guilt than a belief that it would help my writing. After all, isn’t writing a solitary activity? Done in the middle of the night, in a beach side cabin, on a deserted island? However, I had asked for her advice, she had generously spent a long time speaking with me, and I would see her again at future family events. I had to join just so that I could report back to her that I’d followed her suggestion.
The San Francisco Area chapter of Romance Writers of America meets once a month. It’s a professional organization for writers that brings in guest speakers, has a yahoo discussion group, and a yearly writing contest. It also happens to house some of the most talented, supportive, genuinely amazing women that I have ever met. Through this group I have found mentors, women I can look to for inspiration, advice, and a decent kick in the derriere when needed. I have found critique partners, and discovered motivation to keep that day job AND continue writing. I have learned how to embrace marketing through social media, and how to network with other writers and readers.
I have learned that writing is a group activity, not one I should do in isolation. When I’m part of a group, I write. When I’m solitary, I don’t write. I think of us as a Writ of Writers, much like a flock of birds, a knot of frogs, or a tower of giraffes.
When I opened my well-used copy of Writing Romance this morning, Elizabeth’s article reminded me of how important this community of writers is to me and my journey of being an author. All of our creations may be different, but we are writing as a group—mentoring, learning, sharing with one another.
If you are a writer, are you a member of a group or professional writing association? How has being part of a group helped you?
Other authors’ reflections:
Marik Berghs as a guest blogger on Writer’s Fun Zone