Networking is often a confusing task, especially for writers who aren’t currently enrolled in an MFA program, but meeting other writers can be a wonderful thing. Artistic connections keep us from feeling isolated, they can help us filter industry information, provide feedback as critique partners, help us bravely promote our work, and much more. Wondering where all the journal editors and writers are hanging out? Let me help you with that.
Twitter is a terrific place to start. Of all the social networking sites, Twitter has the highest number of writers and editors talking to each other each day. Follow any journal you want to know better and tweet them a hello. Then see who they’re following—you’ll find a long list writers looking to make connections, too. Facebook is another great place to find writers and editors. Most journals have their own Facebook page where you can get an insider’s view of things and meet other interested writers.
Social media will only get you so far in your conversations with your peers, though. If you want to make long-lasting connections with other writers, you need to go where the people are and say hello. Work beside them for a week or two. Laugh together. Maybe even cry.
Three great places to meet and mingle with other writers are Workshops, Residencies, and Conferences. Participating in these opportunities won’t always mean a financial investment, but when it does, you might be able to fund your adventure by way of an artist grant. I’ve earned two grants myself from the Arizona Commission on the Arts, which paid my way to a the Desert Nights Rising Stars Conference near me and then a week at the Atlantic Center for the Arts in Florida. Grant information is available at your state level, at Poets & Writers Magazine, and through the National Endowment for the Arts.
Writing workshops that include Master Classes are terrific opportunities for meeting serious writers and journal editors. Master Classes are small group workshops taught by industry experts. The cost for Master Class workshops varies, but is usually a significant amount. Most are between $900/k and $1200/wk. You can find master classes across the country, hosted by journals and other literary groups. A few of the many:
Blue Flower Arts: http://blueflowerarts.com/wwc/
Aspen Summer Words: http://www.aspenwords.org/programs/summer-words/
Tin House: http://tinhouse.com/winter-workshops/
Bread Loaf: http://www.middlebury.edu/bread-loaf-conferences
Artist residencies invite writers and other artists to join them for time and space away from their regular environment. Residencies provide a time of reflection and uninterrupted productivity—and networking. Some residencies host large groups at a time, and others have only a few spaces available each month. Many residencies are free to writers who qualify and others charge a small fee.
Some of the better known residencies are The Millay Colony: http://www.millaycolony.org, The MacDowell Colony: http://www.macdowellcolony.org, Djerassi: http://djerassi.org, and Yaddo: https://www.yaddo.org. You’ll find hundreds more at these two websites: Alliance of artists communities: http://www.artistcommunities.org/residencies/directory and ResArtis, the Worldwide Network of Artist Residencies: http://www.resartis.org/en/residencies/about_residencies/.
Writing conferences happen all year long, all across the country. Many journal editors serve on panels and host one-on-one mentoring at conferences. The most cost-effective way to participate is to find a great conference near you. When that isn’t an option, consider traveling with a buddy and sharing a hotel room.
The very best place to find a ballroom full of serious literary writers and journal editors is at the annual AWP Conference: https://www.awpwriter.org/awp_conference/overview. AWP is the Association of Writers and Writing Programs. Over 800 literary journals and writing programs attend hoping to meet writers like you. The AWP conference changes location every year, so it might show up in your neck of the woods soon. If you’re working on a memoir or writing personal essays, you might also consider visiting the ASJA Conference: http://asja.org/For-Writers/ASJA-Events, where creative nonfiction takes the spotlight. You can find many more conferences for writers here: https://www.pw.org/conferences_and_residencies.
Whether you reach out via social networks or you show up in person, go seek your colleagues this year. You don’t have to walk through this literary landscape alone. Writers and editors out there are hoping to connect with you, too!
Do you have something say about poetry? An essay on being a poet, tips for poets, or poetry you love? TrishHopkinson.com is now accepting pitches for guest blog posts.
Windy Lynn Harris is the author of Writing & Selling Short Stories & Personal Essays: The Essential Guide to Getting Your Work Published (Writer’s Digest Books). She’s a prolific writer, a trusted mentor, and a frequent speaker at literary events. More about Windy at www.windylynnharris.com.