Alright, so I promise I haven’t fallen off the side of the earth! This past few weeks have been absolute rollercoaster weeks. The highs have included getting to see friends I haven’t seen in a long time and going to see my favorite band in concert, which was AMAZING! But I’ve also had some real lows with struggling in classes, a family member in the hospital, and my own ER visit. Thank god, everyone is ok and I’ve been able to push through.
But through all that I knew what I wanted my first post in the month of love to be. It’s a tough one for me, because it’s a personal one. I needed to get in a right headspace in order to be able to talk to y’all about it. So this week I wanted to talk to all my foxes about a writer’s support system. In the grand scheme of writing I think this topic gets overlooked because a lot of people look at writing as a solitary activity. Sure, it certainly can be. Yet, having a support system can make a huge difference in a writer’s life. It did in my life.
I’ve always loved to write, but I started writing longer stories when I was in the last few years of high school. I wrote non stop, at home, at school, anywhere. Oooh, my teachers hated it, because i looked like I was paying attention and taking notes, but I had NO clue what was actually going on. If you follow me on Facebook you probably saw my recent post where i found over forty-five stories from back in the day. Many of these came from when I was a teen. Now, I can’t pretend that all of them are very good (I went through a phase where I was pretentious as hell. I was so sure I was going to be the next F. Scott Fitzgerald or Ernest Hemingway) but they were still the stories I loved.
During that time I was far more open to talking and showing my work than I was later on. For me, there were two people I wanted to show my work to the most. Both women were incredibly important to me and were big time readers. In my head, I just assumed they would want to read my work. So when neither of them took an interest in my writing, I was crushed. I didn’t know how to handle the rejection, and made the unfortunate decision that if they didn’t want to read it, all of my work had to be crap.
I had never felt so low in my life. I went through stretches of time when I would rip up my work, or throw it away. I hated that I couldn’t stop writing, because I didn’t feel like what I was writing was worth it. But I didn’t stop, because I couldn’t. At the time I hated that I kept writing, but now I thank my lucky stars that I didn’t stop. Should I have realized their refusal had more to do with my age rather than my actual writing? Probably. But I was an emotional teen, small things became mountains. And unfortunately, as I grew into adulthood, my anxiety set in and only fueled my harsh negativity toward my writing. I continued to be critical of everything I wrote, and I absolutely refused to share my work anymore.
It took me years to come out of this dark place. Years, and thankfully having some great people come into my life. They helped me realize that I needed a good support system to grow. And eventually my confidence in my work returned. Once I had a few people that were my support system, I stopped hiding my work, and I stopped refusing to say that I was a writer. I learned how to deal with rejection, and how to find my way. One of those people was someone who had been in my life the whole time. My grandmother began to listen to me talk through outlines, character sketches, plot twists, etc. Not only did she listen, but she began to ask questions, critique, and encourage me. With her support I began to write more, and began to talk to others about my writing.
Once that happened I caught the attention of a friend, who also happened to be a writer. God bless this woman! Because not only does she read my work, she critiques my actual writing skills. She looks at sentence structure, grammar, along with the actual content. As a writing partner she challenges me to improve my writing skills, as well as giving me a chance to improve my critique skills. That’s not a skill set that I’ve had the chance to improve before.
Finally, I’ve got another friend who literally reads EVERY bit of my writing. Little snippets of scenes, chapters, short stories and outlines. Before anyone else even sees my writing, this gal looks at the rough, rough, ROUGH drafts. And then she gives me the best encouragement. She challenges me not to give up, to keep writing, and to push through.
Now, most of these people fell into my life. They were friends who saw me writing and asked to see, or family that started asking questions. Hopefully, you’ll have some of these types of people around naturally. But if you don’t, there are a few ways I’ve found this type of support myself.
One of the best ways to connect with people all over the world is social media. Personally, I’ve joined several Facebook groups that are for writers and have found them to be wonderful. I enjoy that if I have a question I can pose it, and tend to get a wide range of support and answers from writers at all stages of the writing process. I’ve made writing friends through those groups, and I wouldn’t trade them for anything in the world. A simple search of ‘writer’ in the facebook search bar can bring up dozens of groups, which I would encourage you to look through and find some that work for you.
Another place I found support in, is my local community. Now I live out in the country, about 45 minutes from the nearest big city, but there are a couple of small towns around me. The nearest one actually has a group that meets twice a month of local writers. I was completely surprised by this, but have found it to be a nice group to get together with. If my little town has that, most bigger cities and towns should to. I challenge you to take a look at your local community and I bet you find some type of support group. Try going to a meeting. You never know if it will work for you until you try it out.
Finally, of course, if you feel you need support but can’t find it or aren’t getting it, reach out to me. I created the Fox Den not only to share my experiences and thoughts, but because I wanted to create a community. I know exactly what it feels like to be in the middle of a storm of doubt and lack of support. I don’t want others to go through that. No matter what, I want my foxes to know that they have me in their corner. Through email, Facebook, comments, etc. I’m here to provide support as much as entertain.
So for this week, that’s what I wanted to share! I hope this shows y’all why it’s important to have a support system, and some ideas on where to find it. Next week is back to some fun with romantic cliches I absolutely hate!
As always, I’d love to hear from my readers! How have you found support in your life? Do you have some more ways or ideas on how a writer can find support? Or do you have a different opinion on support systems?
Hugs and Loves my foxes!