Monday, July 18, 2011

Aussie Writer on the Journey: What I've learned from Writing Organisations

by Narelle Atkins

I’m excited to be a part of this new group blog. The writers in our group are all travelling their own unique journeys, and I believe we can learn a lot from each other’s experiences. I’m a romance writer and, if you asked me what is one thing a writer can do to help them on their journey to publication, without hesitation I would recommend joining writing organisations that are relevant to their writing interests.

I can thank the writing organisations I belong to for teaching me how to become a professional writer. I value the writing friends I’ve made through my various writing groups. Your writing friends are the people who understand your euphoria when you final in a writing contest and receive a full manuscript request from your dream editor, and they share your pain and disappointment when you receive yet another rejection letter. I appreciate the writers, many of whom are further along the road than I, who have taken the time to encourage, support and teach me about the craft and business of writing.

Romance writers are known for being friendly, supportive and willing to help others. I’ve certainly experienced this through my memberships with Romance Writers of Australia and Romance Writers of America. I served as Vice President of the Faith, Hope and Love Inspirational Chapter of Romance Writers of America (FHL) from 2008-10, and in 2011 I’m serving as Co-President of FHL. FHL is a very comfortable fit for me because I write category romance targeting both the Christian and secular markets.

Writing organisations also provide a wealth of information and resources. American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) is an amazing organisation with more resources than I have room to list in this post. They have an online email loop frequented by multi-published authors and industry professionals. ACFW provides free online classes for members and an annual conference that I would love to attend one day. The International Christian Fiction Writers blog was formed as a result of ACFW members chatting about promoting international Christian fiction on the ACFW Beyond the Borders zone email loop.

I’ve learned how to query editors and agents, and how to assess whether a publishing house or agent would be a good fit for my work. My writing has improved after entering and judging contests sponsored by writing organisations. I met my critique partners through my writing groups. I understand the importance of networking, and that marketing and promotion should start before you publish as you seek to create an author platform. I have realistic expectations about life as a published author, and I know that a large majority of working authors also have a day job. I have met, both online and in person, a number of authors who are my role models and who I want to be like when I finally become a published author.

I encourage all the writers reading our blog to get connected with writing organisations because they have been an enormous blessing in my life. Have you been blessed by writing organisations? I’d love to hear your thoughts.




Narelle Atkins writes contemporary inspirational romance. She resides in Canberra, Australia with her husband and children. She can also be found at the International Christian Fiction Writers blog. To learn more about Narelle, please visit her website.

18 comments:

  1. Hi Narelle. I belong to a couple of those groups as well. And I have learned much from them. They are definitely a blessing.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hey Narelle, I found this a very encouraging post. I've been searching for a critque partner/s for 18 months. Other than online and the odd Omega Writers meeting my season of life doesn't allow me to join in with writers groups.
    But I know the importance - and won't give up.
    Thank you. x

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi Amanda, we are very fortunate to have a number of writing organisations we can join and learn from :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hey Michelle, thanks for stopping by :) Are you writing Christian fiction? Are you a member of ACFW? ACFW members can take part in a monthly critiquing course before linking up with other members to form critique groups. Please let me know if you write romance because there a number of options you can look into. I'm glad I've encouraged you to not give up your search :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. Ditto, Narelle. I echo your sentiments about those online groups. ACFW has been a real boon to me, especially when you read questions by others you might have felt plain stoo-pid to ask yourself. And yet answers are always generously forthcoming. Two great books also, are James Scott Bell's PLOT & STRUCTURE and REVISION & SELF EDITING. Wonderful guides!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hi Rita, I second your recommendation for James Scott Bell's writing books - a very helpful resource :)

    ReplyDelete
  7. As a reader its interesting reading these posts I have a friends whos daughter is wanting to write and I suggested joining a writing group. I am a member of the ACFW bookclub and have been able to ask questions on there behalf and suggestions on how to get help. Its a great resource which I can see as a reader.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Agree totally. Writing groups help all of us to grow, and are invaluable for critiquing groups.

    I'd love Christian Writers Downunder to one day be like ACFW, with our own email loop, crit groups and resources. That would be amazing.:)

    Lee

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hi Jenny, it's great to hear the ACFW bookclub members have helped you find information for your friend's daughter :) Another helpful reader resource on the ACFW website is the Fiction Finder database.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Hi Lee, I love your vision for our group :) Thanks also for all the work you and Dorothy have done to get our group up and running.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Narelle part of the problem is that they think they have a great book and are writing a series and it may be good but after blogging and reading author stories I know books have to be edited etc many times and just cos it sounds good doesn't mean it is good. Thats why I wanted her to join or ask for some help. It would be sad for her to write her 4 book series but then find it needs complete overhauls.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Jenny, I agree you've given her good advice. I also sympathise with the writers who think they have a great book, receive rejections from all the mainstream publishers and, instead of seeking help on how to improve their writing, are suckered into paying a vanity publisher to publish their book. Unfortunately I've seen new members join my writing groups who are so excited about selling their book to a vanity press without realising the potential pitfalls of their publishing contract. Knowledge is definitely power in these situations.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Narelle, I have to say RWA and my local chapters were like a life-line for me. I remember back before our lives revolved around the internet, joining chapters all across the country so I could read all the newsletters and soak up all their wisdom.

    ReplyDelete
  14. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Hi Suzie, how would we survive these days without the internet? Thanks for stopping by :)

    ReplyDelete
  16. Narelle, without ACFW I would never have met dear Lee, who's been the best writing mentor a girl could ask (God) for!! What an answer to prayer :)
    I also have an amazing critique buddy in Tennessee as well as hundreds of Facebook writing co-encouragers and examples.
    Like Lee, I look forward to something like ACFW growing out of our own Christian Writers Downunder!! Wouldn't that be something??
    Blessings
    Dotti :)

    ReplyDelete
  17. I am so late catching up on reading all the blogs here but do need to comment on this as a writer who tried to write for nearly two decades with only minimal contacts with other writers I can count on one hand! In fact, it wasn't until I became a member of Romance Writers of Australia that I signed my first contract- after 13 rejections on one manuscript.
    I do so agree with your comments, Narelle, and it has been through you being a member of ACFW I think we first made contact? A writer's journey is always a continuing learning how to "write better" one - or it certainly is for me! Sharing with other writers is an essential part of that wole experience to becoming a published author.
    I too have been a member of ACFW ever since it first commenced back in 2001 and as wonderful as this and Faith Hope Love chapter of RWAmerica have been, I am absolutely delighted to now have fellowship with Aussie writers through Omega Writers in Qld. I only wish I could pop in every month to their face to face monthly meetings! And now congratulations to Lee too for commencing this group!
    Now my biggest problem may be that perhaps I'm now a member of too many groups!

    ReplyDelete
  18. Mary, thanks for stopping by :) I'm pretty sure we did first meet online through ACFW. And we first met in person at the 2007 Romance Writers of Australia conference in Sydney where you presented an excellent workshop on inspirational romance.

    ReplyDelete