Oct. 3, 2021: Professional Organizations and Writers' Groups
Writing can be a very isolating profession, as it is something we mainly do alone. For many of us, we enjoy the solitude of writing, which is perhaps why we are attracted to it in the first place. Add to that the pandemic, and social isolation has seemed to become the norm. However, to be successful as a writer, we cannot stay in that place of solitude.
That makes professional organizations and writers’ groups such an important thing to consider.
There are so many Professional Organizations for Writers, it is hard to know where to start. While the cost of membership may seem high, when you consider what you get for your membership, it is a worthwhile investment. An investment in your career as a writer; your growth as a professional.
Here are some basic things to consider when trying to decide which groups are for you:
Things to look at:
- How long has the organization been in existence and what is its reputation?
- What services and supports does it offer its members? Is it geared toward a specific subset of writers? For example, Mystery writers? Self-published authors?
- What is the background and experience of those in leadership positions within the organization? Does the organization have published Mission Statements or guidelines?
- Will this group meet your needs as both a budding, and hopefully later, a successful writer?
- Will this group offer opportunities to network with publishing professionals through workshops and conferences? Look at the list of speakers from past conferences. Are they mainly local writers or are they publishing professionals with a more national reach?
- What is the scope of this Professional Organization? State-wide? National? International? Many very large professional groups also have state-focused groups under their national umbrella, so check out the affiliates as well.
For most writers, belonging to two or three is probably a good place to start. Once you have joined, optimize your membership by doing the following:
- Read the email updates and newsletters. This may seem like a given, but we do get busy. Make time to read through the correspondence so you are in the loop!
- Attend as many conferences or workshops as finances and time allow. Virtual gatherings are a main offering right now, which is a great money and time saver. No having to travel or get a hotel room.
- Submit to contests and critique groups. This is a great way to get feedback on your writing as well as gain experience in following industry guidelines and expectations.
- Volunteer your expertise and assistance, if possible. Professional Organizations are always looking for members to help out on the committees and groups that work behind the scenes.
Remember, Social Media Writer’s Groups are not Professional Organizations. That does not mean they do not have a place in our world as writers, but they do not offer the same things and cannot take the place of a strong Professional Organization. Most Professional Writer’s Groups also have a Social Media presence, so be sure to follow them. Once you have your Professional Organizations in place, absolutely begin to cultivate those Social Media Writer’s Groups. Joining other social media writer’s groups may be a great way to expand your informal support system.
When looking critically at our work as writers, strong Professional Organizations are as important as a great agent or an enthusiastic editor. They are an invaluable resource to us as we grow both our craft and our careers.