Monday, September 22, 2014

Writer Poll: How Do You Find Community?

Freelancers’ Union recently unveiled a new feature on their site called Hives. The intent is to give freelancers a place to connect, support one another, and discuss every aspect of the freelancing life. Freelancers’ Union encourages members to use the Hives to “talk, form groups, organize events, share videos and photos, and meet up with hundreds of thousands of freelancers.”

This got us thinking. Writing is notoriously a lonely job, and freelance writing can be even more so. So we polled our writers to find out what they do to build community, and we got some ingenious responses.

Unions and Workshops
Robert Woodcox is a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors, as well as the Writers Guild, a writers’ labor union, which he finds is good for discussing political action, financial issues, and other writer-relevant topics that aren’t about the writing process itself.

Temma Ehrenfeld has run a monthly poetry workshop in her home for ten years, where she, a professional editor, and a grant writer read their own and others' poetry. She also has a friend who texts her most days telling her what creative projects he's worked on that day, and asking what she’s accomplished. She finds it’s good to be kept accountable: “Just having to report on what I've done helps,” she says.

Meet Ups
Sheila Lewis organizes “writing dates” with a buddy or two. “Barnes & Noble cafe is a favorite venue, and we reward ourselves with a break for novel browsing,” she says. Sometimes she’ll connect with others at a “destination writing” spot, like the Atrium near Lincoln Center. “Take it offline when you can—at the gym, the JCC, the Y, a school, church, synagogue, or weird hobby group. When you're with real people, something magical and synchronistic happens.”

Catherine Dold is part of a Colorado group called “Boulder Media Women,” which has been going strong for twenty-four years. The group, which started out as informal meetups of a few freelancers, has grown to more than 500 people who get together for Friday morning coffees, monthly potlucks, and Tuesday evening schmoozes.

Shared Space (Physical or Digital)
The Writers Room popped up several times, with several writers saying that the shared work space is where they go to find community.

Sarah Greesonbach stays in touch with other freelance writers and entrepreneurs through Facebook groups and blogs. “These groups give me a good opportunity to ‘check in’ with others throughout the day when I want to, and to not engage when I'm not in the mood.”

None of the Above
Alex Dwyer finds that he simply doesn’t interact with many other writers—and he’s fine with that. “Perhaps its the millennial work/life balancer in me, but I fully enjoy the four-hour blocks when I write in solitude. In non-writing hours, I do non-writing things and interact with all kinds of folks in other facets of life, but I relish and am protective of my solitary writing time.”

Do you have a different method for creating community? Let us know in the comments!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Seven Books to Inspire Your Writing

Got a bad case of the end of summer blues? Or just feeling stuck in a writing rut? One of the best ways we have found to get re-inspired is to read some of our favorite books on writing. So for all of you laboring to dive into your post-Labor Day work-load , here’s a handy guide to seven of our go-to collections of words of wisdom.

Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury
"Every morning I jump out of bed and step on a land mine. The land mine is me. After the explosion, I spend the rest of the day putting the pieces back together. Now, it's your turn. Jump!"

This book, a collection of reflective essays, and is essentially Bradbury’s love letter to writing. It’s exuberant, joyful, and incredibly invigorating.

On Writing by Stephen King
This one is practically obligatory. Not just because it is penned by one of the most prolific and gripping writers of the last half century – but also because of how revealing King is about his own struggles with the craft.

Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss
This book is a little more about the actual mechanics of writing, focusing on grammar and punctuation. Halfway between how-to and humor, this hilarious book will nurture your inner grammar nerd.

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
“E.L. Doctorow said once said that 'Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.' …This is right up there with the best advice on writing, or life, I have ever heard.”

The witty, insightful, generous Anne Lammott shares many incredibly useful pointers like this one about how to get through the day-to-day process of writing and living.

Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon
Kleon’s little handbook took off a few years ago – and for good reason. It boils a lot of thought down into some simple, applicable truths about the creative process. If you don’t feel like buying the book, take a look at the Ted Talk, which contains all the same information (and is free!).

The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr. and E. B. White
A classic. Any writer worth his salt will have at least skimmed this beauty – it’s pretty much unavoidable if you’ve received an English degree from any accredited university.

Insert your favorite book here
There’s nothing like reading a piece of writing that you find truly incredible to show you what words can do when used correctly. Reading your favorite book can remind you why you started writing in the first place.

We hope these help! Let us know what books you find inspiring in the comments.