To improve as a writer and also keep my sanity, I’ve found a few ways to become engaged with other members of the writing community.
Pitching and Writing Contests
You may know me as the founder of #SFFpit, the twice-annual Twitter pitching event for authors of science fiction and fantasy novels. In August and September, I volunteer as a mentor for Pitch Wars, a contest run by Brenda Drake in which writing professionals (agented authors, editors, or agency interns) help new writers polish their work.
I also serve as a judge for Michelle Hauck’s Query Kombat, which is exactly what it sounds like. Last but not least, I serve on the panel of final-round judges for D.L. Hammons’s WRiTE CLUB, a privilege awarded after I won the tournament in 2014.
Writer’s Groups and Professional Organizations
I’m an active member of a few writer’s groups, as well as these organizations:
- Codex, a writer’s group for neo-pro writers of speculative fiction.
- SFWA, the professional organization for science fiction and fantasy authors in the U.S.
National Novel Writer’s Month
Every November, I join hundreds of thousands of writers around the world who attempt to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. This effort, called National Novel Writer’s Month or NaNoWriMo, is a wonderful opportunity to help aspiring novelists reach their dream of completing a book-length manuscript. It’s much harder than it sounds. To achieve the goal, participants must write 1,667 words per day, every day, in a month that contains (among many other things) the Thanksgiving holiday.
The difficulty is reflected in NaNoWriMo’s success rate. In 2013, for example, over 300,000 people participated, but only 41,940 (about 14%) reached the 50,000 word mark by November 30. I’m proud to say that I’ve completed NaNoWriMo eight times, every year since 2009.
- 3 Lessons I Learned, my guest post at the NaNoWriMo blog.
- How to Prepare for NaNoWriMo, a tongue-in-cheek checklist.
- When NaNoWriMo Gets Hard, a mid-November survival guide.
- NaNoWriMo and Becoming A Writer, a post-November essay.
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