People always say that a writing career is a marathon, not a sprint. I’ve never liked that analogy. Both types of races imply serious competition with the other writers around you.
Certainly, the marketplace is competitive. But I don’t believe you should try to beat your personal network of writers.
I also hear people say that a writing career is a journey. I prefer this idea, clichéd though it may be. A journey doesn’t imply competition. It is simply getting from a starting point to a destination. Beginning with a dream and reaching a goal.
And journeys are always better when you take them with friends.
Writing group members can help each other on their collective journey by:
- Offering feedback on each other’s work
- Guest posting on each other’s blogs
- Sharing information they learn about writing and marketing
- Beta reading
- Cover design (if one of them knows graphic design)
- Blurb writing
- Contributing honest, thorough reviews on Amazon
- Emotional support when things get tough
- Etc. There are countless other ways your group can assist you, and you them.
I think that having a writing group is like Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, in which a fellowship of characters makes a pilgrimage to Canterbury. Along the way, they each tell a story that represents who they are and from where they come. In doing so, they pass the time and make the journey more enjoyable. There is a competition between them to tell the best tale, but it’s all in good fun.
My writing group functions in a similar way. We have a variety of genres represented: literary fiction, crime fiction (that’s me), science fiction, young adult fiction, and historical fiction, to name a few.
We share our work with one another, in effect telling stories that represent who we are. Just like Chaucer’s characters. And we help each other ready our stories for publishing. There’s no competition between us. Only support. We make our collective journey, our literary pilgrimage, better by taking it together.
Being an author is a long and often difficult road. We do it because we love it. We couldn’t imagine life without storytelling.
But having a strong network to support you can make all the difference. So find a writing group, and enjoy going on this journey together.