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On Meeting Other Writers

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Anonymous asked: “I have no writing friends- and where I live, not many people my age are interested in writing. What should I do?”

Now take my advice with a grain of salt. Writing friends do not need to be your age or at your stage of life. The grain of salt – obviously there are some age differences that will matter, especially for the under 18 crowd, but for the most part, trust me, it doesn’t. Just always remember to be safe when meeting new people. 

I’ve had a long history of being the youngest person in the room at writing events, in writing classes, and even at book events. Since junior high, if I saw a flyer that read “Calling all writers” it was just an assumed thing I’d show up. If these events were put on by local nonprofits, libraries, or continuing ed programs, often I would be (and often still am) the youngest in the room by maybe a decade or two. Don’t think for a second that that stopped me from making friends. 

If you’ve been to more than a few writing events, you’ll quickly notice that many writers are either very young or retired.  There are young adult, adult, and teenage writers out there of course, but in my experience, they aren’t necessarily going to be a better or worse potential critique partner and writing friend than someone who is not exactly your age. 

Another thing, when I found out someone was a writer, I always tended to seek them out. Seriously – when I found out in the 9th grade that a girl on my bus wrote poetry, I sat next to her and tried to talk to her about it. That was how I made writing friends. I talked to people who sometimes didn’t want to talk to me, people I otherwise thought I’d had nothing in common with. I did this kind of a lot growing up. It might sound nerve-wracking, but it was just about the only kind of bold, daring, social move I ever make that doesn’t get me nervous. I mean, what’s the worst that could happen? The girl who wrote poetry on my bus said her process was very private. I sat across from a different poet in the library about a month later who was interested in swapping work. It takes putting yourself out there to make connections. Sometimes it’s asking around, going to local events, and making a point to collect email addresses. 

That was how I found writing friends. Writing friends, remember don’t need to be your best friends. They aren’t the friends you necessarily are going to see movies with, but they are people you talk to and swap work with. They are people you might want to grab coffee with to talk books and techniques, start write-ins with, and things like that. It might be a different kind of friendship. And the truth is, age doesn’t matter all that much. A writer is a writer and it may take meeting more than a few to find someone you really click with. Making writing friends means putting yourself out there, going to events, maybe even starting events. If you’re in school, you can start a club. If you’re grown, why not reach out to your local library about possibly hosting a write-in or search for writing courses or circles in your town. You might be surprised at what you find. The big thing is, if there’s no one coming to you, you need to be the one reaching out and starting something. Let other writers know you’re out there. 

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