Left to right: Amie Kaufman as a pirate; Erin Bowman as a devil; Sarah Maas, rocking the astronaut helmet; and me as a homeless dude/angel who unintentionally looks a little like Jesus

I think I’ve probably talked about this before, but I’m not sure I’ve ever laid out the point quite like I’m about to. What point is that?

One of the most important steps in your writing journey is forming friendships with other writers.

I didn’t appreciate this as a young writer–back in my tween and teen years. I had Fictionpress, but it was a community of anonymous writers. And while the feedback those people gave me all those years ago was absolutely invaluable, I wasn’t open to intimate writing relationships.

Even three years ago, when I first started my journey to publication, I was wary of forming friendships with other writers. Actually, wary isn’t the right word–scared is more like it. I was afraid to reach out because–like most people and situations in life–I was scared of rejection. What if other writers thought I sucked? What if they didn’t want to be my friend or help me with my writing?

But then my dad said something to me. He said, “If you want to be an artist, you need to find other artists. Having other writers to talk to is something you’re going to need.”

My father is a photographer of the very creative, deeply-moved variety. He is, quite simply, an artist, and when he gave me that piece of advice back in 2009, I totally ignored it. I thought photography and writing were totally different animals, and…well, I was scared of rejection.

So other than a few more anonymous and ultimately short-lived interactions with writing communities online, I again tried to rough it on my own.

And then one day, I met Holly Dodson. We became crit partners…then friends. I realized that just being able to throw the word “character arc” in an email and have someone understand made my DAY.

So I reached out further, and met Kat Brauer. We became crit partners…then friends. Suddenly, I was having full conversations about writing with two people–and it felt AMAZING.

Well, feeling empowered and less shy, I decided to apply to Let the Words Flow when they were seeking a new member…and this seemingly small move ultimately changed my life. It opened up a huge world of new friendships–and not just with the LTWF girls, but with their readers as well.

Then I met Meredith McCardle, Happy LaShelle, Erica O’Rourke, Amity Thompson, AND SO MANY MORE.

Then–to make my life even fuller and more amazing–LTWF evolved into Pub(lishing) Crawl, and through that, I made more friends.

Now I have an entire freaking  NETWORK of close, dear, I-cannot-function-without FRIENDS. Friends who are also writers. Friends I can email whenever I need to rant about the latest book deal that sounds just like my WIP. 😉 Friends who understand that if I vanish for a week, it’s nothing to be alarmed about. In fact, it’s probably means I’ve been in the writing trenches, and that’s actually worth celebrating.

So Dad, you were right: I needed writers to talk to. I need writers to talk to, and at the end of the day, they’re just as scared of rejection as I am–and that’s part of what makes our bonds so strong.

You tell me: do you have writer friends? Or, if you’re not a writer, do you have a support network like this?

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