One of the most satisfying aspects of this writing journey has been making connections. Meeting other writers through attending conferences and participating in critique groups has been a great source of joy. I've never met a better bunch of people! They are so encouraging and truly sincere in wanting the best for you as a writer. They don't mince words and are honest in their critiques, but it's always for the purpose of making you a better writer.
I am not a natural when it comes to engaging people in conversation. I am far more comfortable behind the keyboard than I am making small talk face-to-face. However, I happen to be married to an extrovert, so I've picked up a few things over the past, shall we say, many years. One thing I've learned is to ask questions. My fear of appearing stupid has been quickly and easily overridden by my desire to know. When meeting other writers, I want to know why and what they write. I want to know how they persevere and what they think are non-negotiables in the writing process.
Asking questions has proved to be instrumental in building the writing connections I've made thus far. It's created new friendships, interesting dialog, and expanded my view of the writing world. It's fun, it's surprising, and it's unpredictable. I never know what kind of an answer I'm going to get, or even who I will end up connecting with. It's so far out of my comfort zone, but this is where I can stomp on fear and march forward with confidence and reap the spoils of newfound connections.
Fear can really mess with anyone, but for writers, I think it can feel extra thick. However, the best advice I've gotten regarding fear on this writing journey is to: 1) expect it, 2) face it, and 3) tackle it. Fear is part of the journey. There's no avoiding it. Writing is, by nature, vulnerable. Expect it and then face it head-on. Fear loses it's power when it's confronted. And when you're no longer controlled by it's power, you can then tackle it and get to the sweet payoff behind it. For me, the payoff has been making some amazing writing connections and gaining valuable writing knowledge because I faced my fear of putting my writing out there and of stepping out of my comfort zone.
I've been able to do this because of so many others who have done the same. They've been a great example, and I've appreciated their honesty, bravery, and encouragement. The act of writing may be a solitary process, but it's the connections we make as writers that make the writing come alive. Make some connections this weekend and write on!