“I need more creative conversation," a new friend confides.
It’s a need I know well. And judging by response to the question recently raised — How do you make writing friends? — many of us are seeking meaningful conversation.
Combining reader response with my own experience, I offer some suggestions:
How to Make Writing Friends
1. Join (or Start) a Writing Group
Join a local writing group. Can’t find one? Start your own!
Writing Alone, Writing Together is a handy get-started guide.
Success: Years ago I moved to a small, remote town and had no writing friends. I couldn’t find a writing group so I started my own. I created a structure — a monthly drop-in writing session held in my home. I served soup and offered writing prompts — and spread the word by posting fliers in the laundromat, post office and local restaurants. The first session, a dark and stormy night, the house filled with first-time and experienced writers of fiction, poetry, essay and more. We met for more than two years, and then held our first public reading at a local coffeehouse. Over 50 people attended the reading and Off the Page became an annual event. Now in its fifth year, Off the Page features writers of all levels and genres, from all over Oregon.
Caveat: I found a writing group that met in the next town. They were a warm and welcoming collection of writers — and dedicated, too, meeting for several hours every week. The members were retired and they met in the afternoon, at a time that, unfortunately, did not fit my work schedule. Still, I am grateful for the brief time I spent with these gracious writers. My advice: Find a group that fits your schedule, personality and writing process. Don’t get discouraged. Finding a good fit takes time, effort and an open mind.
2. Take a Class
Polish your skills and meet other writers. Find writing classes at community colleges, bookstores, community centers and libraries. But remember, it’s not enough to just attend class, you gotta participate, and then — gasp! — reach out to others.
Success: “I met my first writing friends by going to a free mini-workshop put on by a local writer's conference,” says Linda, a reader of this blog. “At that first meeting almost 28 years ago, I met my friend and lifelong writing buddy — we still remain best friends and writing pals to this day!”
Schools, libraries and community centers are in desperate need of caring, committed volunteers. When you volunteer, you help others and you help yourself by expanding your social circle. "How about volunteering at the library?" suggests Fred, a reader of this blog. "Maybe not all are writers, but they all read." He's right. Volunteer at the library and you’ve already got a common bond: a love of books.
4. Attend Readings & Open Mics
It’s not enough to read and write, you’ve got to support other readers and writers. You want your words in the world? You want attention and applause? You’ve gotta give it to get it. And here’s the bonus: While you’re cheering on others, you’re also increasing your odds of making new friends.
5. Write a Letter
I enjoy writing letters of appreciation to authors. When I was 10 years old, I wrote my first "fan" letter, to Judy Blume, author of Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. The handwritten letter I received in response made me a dedicated fan of Blume, and of books. “Write fan letters to your favorite authors,” says Linda, a reader of this blog. “Sometimes they respond and become writing friends.”
Caveat: In recent years I've penned letters of appreciation to poets whose books I enjoyed. Sadly, I've received no response. And while it's disappointing, it's also a good reminder that we're each at different places and paces in our lives.
6. Read (and Respond to) Blogs
The web is chocked with writing blogs. These online resources offer information and inspiration, and most bloggers want to interact with their readers. Get connected by leaving a comment on a blog post, or sending an email to your favorite blogger. Reach out. You may be pleasantly surprised to find a writer — like you — ready to make a friend.
Success: A friend, who I met through my blog, calls herself a "lurker" — a person who reads blogs but never leaves a comment. She lurks on the edges as an observer. When this shy reader-writer took a chance and entered a blog drawing, she won the book — and made a friend.
7. Linked In
LinkedIn is a business-related social network, and a good place to meet writing professionals. The site is packed with hundreds of writing-related groups with active message boards and opportunities. Check out: Book Writer, Certified Professional Writers Association, Poetic Asides, and more.
Sure, Facebook can be an endless feed of meaningless banter, but when used with focus this social network can yield writing groups and support. For example, do a Search for “Poets” or “Fiction” or "Writing Groups" and you'll find numerous options. Or search for your favorite author or book and you’ll easily find a ready-made group with at least one thing in common.
What writer doesn’t love to read? (If you don’t read, don’t tell me. It’s too painful to know). Share your love of books with others on Goodreads, and let this shared passion lead to new friends — and book suggestions.
10. Be Brave
Making friends can be difficult. Like dating or a job search, finding friends can stir all kinds of insecurities. Sometimes you just have to buck up and be brave. I made friends, explains Molly, a reader of this blog, by asking classmates if they wanted to get together after class. “I mustered my courage to go a step beyond.”