Like many writers, I first wrote in secret. I wasn't sure what I was capable of and I didn't want to show anyone my work until I was confident it was good enough to read. I wrote in furtive, little spurts every moment I could, which was challenging because I have four kids. It didn't take long for my husband to figure out what was going on (particularly when I would disappear into my office for half my Saturday). I was worried that if I shared my writing too soon, someone might discourage me and I wouldn't complete the story.
This is not a wholly irrational fear. In his book On Writing, Steven King says that he doesn't show anyone his first drafts until they are complete. I know people who have quit writing because they received feedback that discouraged them. I didn't want that to happen to my shiny dream.
Even so, at some point it can be helpful to get a little feedback from someone you trust to make sure there is genuine interest in your story and help generate the excitement to continue. I remember listening to a podcast that interviewed a group of writers in Utah called The Six. They were a group of ladies in various stages of success in breaking into the publishing biz. I remember being impressed by their warmth and camaraderie, and more than anything, the fun they were having together!
I wanted to be a part of something like that, but I didn't see a way with all the demands on my time and the limitations with location. I live in the middle of nowhere and didn't personally know a single writer that lived nearby. So not seeing any solutions, I shelved that dream and figured it probably wouldn't happen.
When I first started posting Born of Shadow on Wattpad, it was mainly to gain exposure for my story and make connections with other writers. Little did I realize that it would lead to me finding an amazing group of friends from around the world that would combine to form the Wattpad Class of 2014.
It all began as we found our way to each other stories. Our enthusiasm for the each other's work led to dedications, spontaneous shout outs and personal visits to each other's message boards to give words of encouragement or cheer each other on to a goal (see pic in the media box for example). The group formed very organically, which is the best way in my opinion. Our stories and message boards ended up being places where we would have conversations. At one point (I think it was on Tim's board), we hashed out a plan to throw a cosplay party where we had to dress as characters from each other's books either at Hay House in London or Wattpad HQ in Toronto (no characters from your own books allowed).
Considering we live all over the US, in Canada, England, Australia and India, it will be quite the feat to pull it together. That plan hasn't come together yet, but someday!
We had already become tight friends by the time we realized that three of us were being featured right around the same time. So we decided to throw a party to celebrate and share our stories with fellow Wattpadders. The party book is entitled Meet the Wattpad Class of 2014 (you can check it out in our bio).
Around this time, we formed a private Facebook page to more easily connect with each other and not have to graffiti up each other's chapters every time we wanted to talk. In the WPC2014, I have finally found the support group of my dreams. Over the past year, it has become more and more apparent to me just how valuable it can be for writers to be a part of a group they trust. Here are just a few of the benefits we've received:
• We bounce story ideas off each other
• We get cover opinions (handy to have a couple of artists and graphic designers in the mix)
• We get a multicultural perspective (especially helpful since they can help me make my English and Arabic characters more authentic)
• We share marketing ideas - what works and doesn't
• We share ideas on how to build a "platform"
• We do cross promotions where we take turns supporting one members work via reads, tweet-alongs, blog posts and message promotions
• We ask for suggestions on how to handle tricky situations and trolls
• We provide encouragement and love for those dealing with the nasty aspects of the business
• We get suggestions for our characters
• We judge each other's contests
• We support each other during exciting moments, like Darly winning her publishing contract, Mel's, Farah's, and my book launches, and Vic's landing her dream agent and publishing deal.
• We provide a support group for the difficult things going on in our personal lives. This has been one of the biggest benefits in my opinion.
To be honest, this list barely scratches the surface of what we do for each other. At the end of the day, we are friends. We trust each other. We are each other's "safe place" to fall and we know we will always get a straight up honest opinion and encouragement to continue. We are, as Vic coined us, a surprisingly professional cuddle puddle.
The WPC2014 feels blessed to have been able to find one another on Wattpad and create these deep connections. We know there are many fellow Wattpadders who desire a similar situation but have not yet found their group. Or maybe you've found your group and want to link up to the bigger Wattpad community, but just don't know how.
In the next post, I plan to share with you some of the fun ways we would like to connect with you and help support you on your Wattpad journey.
Are you part of a writing group? What makes it click?
Sarah Benson is the author of The Shadow Wars series. The first book in the series Born of Shadow is completely up on Wattpad and the second book The Bloodstone Prophecy is currently being uploaded on a weekly basis. She is one of the founding members of the Wattpad Class of 2014. She currently writes a blog at www.SarahBensonBooks.com. You can find her liking, tweeting, pinning, and hearting stuff on most social media with the handle @sarahbensonbooks. Links to social media are on her bio page (you can click on the dedi link above). She would love to connect with you all over the web.
YOU ARE READING
Tips, Tricks, and Tools for Succeeding as a WriterNon-Fiction
Welcome! We are glad you found your way here and hope that the things we post here will be useful to you as a writer. The WPC2014 appreciates all the support we’ve received from all of you and would like to return the favor by offering strategies...