Thursday, January 27, 2011

BEING A WRITER'S ADVOCATE


I can't help myself, I'm an insatiable cheerleader. As a writer, one takes many hits to their self-esteem, art, and sometimes ego. But for some reason we are gluttons for punishment. Becoming a writer's advocate, aka: cheerleader, supporter, encourager and defender happened strictly by accident. However, if you are a writer, or someone who seeks to become one - find your own cheerleader. Trust me, it will be the greatest lift you need in this difficult journey from creating a draft to chipping away at your masterpiece.


HOW DID IT ALL START


When I first started writing I sought out online communities to support my writing. I had finished a full manuscript that was ... in bad shape I must say, but I thought I was ready for the next step. I started submitting some samples of my work and let me tell you - if I didn't have tough skin, I would have folded. People on some forums can be sooooooo mean, nonsupportive and will rip you (yes you personally) and your work to shreds. I didn't give up though, I know my story had great potential. Luckily, I stumbled on a place called Absolute Write (www.absolutewrite.com/forums). Although, there were some meanies there, there was many more supportive writers who encouraged me, gave positive and useful feedback on my work, as well as great advice.

THE LIGHT BULB


Even though Absolute write was great, I was a YA writer and wanted - no needed, a focus on the type of writing I did. Also, I really desired a more supportive place to hang out. A place where...quite frankly someone helped me instead of ripping my work to shreds. By chance I happen to be on twitter and found this hashtag for yalitchat. Shortly after Georgia McBride took it offline to a www.yalitchat.ning.com and writers of like minds helped Georgia build a highly supportive, learning and enriching place to hang out.

It was in that environment that I got the thirst to help other writers grow in a supportive environment - some place that wouldn't tear them down, but help them create their own masterpiece. I joined the Moderators on the YALitchat site. Thereafter, I got involved in a local writing community, I became the coordinator for the Editor and Agent recruitment for our conferences. Then I headed up the writing internship recruitment where I was able to be a personal motivator to young writers graduating from college.

Let's just say - it was the most rewarding, amazing thing I've ever done. In doing so, I've mentored over five authors and two of which are now published.

HOW YOU CAN BE AN ADVOCATE

Get involved. Support new writers. Join an organization that has the same purpose and start one of the most rewarding gifts of being a writer - the gift to be able to enlighten and improve another persons journey. The journey that can make or break a person more deeply than anything else. Being a writer can do that when you get feedback from some beta readers, when your work is rejected over and over by lit agents or publishers. At the end of the day, with a mind for blazing your own path, anyone whether a writer or not, can reach the stars with a cheerleader behind them.

17 comments:

Kelly Hashway said...

I couldn't agree more. Writers need to support each other and cheer each other on. This industry is tough and really on other writers fully understand just how tough it is.
I think you're amazing LM. You've done so much to help other writers. You share your knowledge and experience, and you genuinely care about other writers. So thank you for that.

LM Preston said...

Oh Kelly thank you!

Pk Hrezo said...

So so true! I hope to be able to do the same once I get something out there. Writers like you and Georgia are such great examples.

beth said...

LM you're always so impressive. I'm doing good just to keep up with my critique partners and make the monthly meetings for SCBWI.

Catherine Stine said...

I applaud your journey!
I've learned, too, through tough stuff, like having too many readers that I didn't totally know or trust, and having people in my writing group who were very negative and had other agendas.

Now, I've been in the same close-knit writing group for years, and have great trust in the members. I've also taught writing, and have had the pleasure of seeing more than a few of my students publish.

Kristin said...

New follower! Stop by and say hi if you get a chance!
Have a great weekend!
Kristin
MyBookishWays

writesbymoonlight said...

My writer's group meets weekly and we've started First Tuesdays for new writers. It's so rewarding.

I don't know where I'd be without the support and encouragement of my writer's group.

Madigan McGillicuddy said...

I'm taking part in Story Siren's 2011 Debut Authors Challenge.

2011 looks like it's going to be an amazing year for books. There are so many new things coming out that I'm looking forward to.

I'm not a writer, but as a librarian, I wouldn't be in business without you guys! Woo! Go, writers, go!

Grace Elliot said...

Funny how as a parent you encourage and find the positive in everything and then when you're out in the world people love to tear you to shreds. I admire what you are doing and I too find Twitter very supportive. Best of luck for you're writing.

Susan Bearman said...

Great post. Generosity usually comes full circle.

Joe Duncko said...

If you're a young author, http://youngwriterssociety.com/ is also a great site to get started on.

I am still trying to decide whether to focus on my novella first, or focus on communication on forums first. I think I decided to do novella first because of priorities, though, so you won't be seeing me on those sites for a couple more months!

Heather said...

Very well said, bravo! It is all about the community and supporting each other. I love that about the writing world.

Avery said...

Great post and it's wonderful you give so much to help other writers. You will certainly reap the rewards. And thank you for sharing the information regarding yalitchat. Will definitely check it out.

Steph said...

Great post! Getting rejections is difficult enough so it's important to have that 'cheerleader' behind you. And as someone who's a new member of yalitchat, I can already attest to how supportive this group is.

Uva Be Dolezal said...

So true! When somebody else compliments your work it's worth so much more then promoting yourself. It's also great to find advise and comfort in like minds out there :) cheers to creative cheer leaders!

Anne-Mhairi Simpson said...

I was just saying to a friend of mine that I consider the best way to build up a name for yourself is to help others. You amass some good karma and others are more willing to help you if you help them first. Apart from which the warm fuzzies I get when one of my friends makes a #writegoal or gets a publication offer or betareads one of my MSs simply cannot be come by any other way. Interacting with other writers is the best route to feeling good about myself. And there are sometimes those moments when you have a pot/kettle moment, telling someone about something and then you think, oh, hmmm, I should probably do that too :D

zenmotherfuckers.org said...

TBH, I kinda enjoy it when people tear into my work, regardless of how pleasant (or unpleasant) they might be about it. Too much optimism and support, and I begin growing suspicious of my readers - there's something wrong with my writing, there always is, it's just a matter of tearing it to shreds so that I can find the bloody faults.

On the other hand, I also enjoy being supportive, optimistic, and encouraging to other people - especially creatives, but not exclusively. I guess this is a matter of giving without taking.

Also, I might be an emotional masochist, but that's an entirely different story :p