Nov
10
2014

Find Your Tribe

Writing is solitary work. Though many readers have a struggle to imagine authors outside of a book tour or convention, most of an author’s time is spent working alone. Projects may take months or years to finish, and even our communications with editors and beta readers happen in emails or notes in the manuscript’s margins. As passionate as we have to be about our work to see it through to the end, it’s easy to lose touch with the world as the focus on story consumes our attention. While this situation suits many, I find it essential to remember that storytelling is a performance art. Without the audience and our fellow performers, the larger body of work loses its meaning.

The Internet, and the ease with which we can now access information, has made it ever easier to stay connected to both your supporters and your hecklers. Though some people find joy in sadism and tarnishing the accomplishments of others, there are also tribe members waiting to be found. Creative professionals no longer have the luxury of being a hermit. It is essential, therefore to be able to pick out the voices of support and love from the mass of negative white noise.

I was first introduced to the concept of tribe at the Superstars Writing Seminar back in 2013. Tribe are the kindred souls from whom we learn our craft, the business and marketing team that keep us up to date on the latest trends, and the support structure we can lean on when doubts threaten to crush our spirits. An author’s fans are also an important part of the tribe, their excitement and enthusiasm fuel the drive to continue creating. In short, an author’s tribe are the people that understand and support him/her. They are the friends who genuinely want to see you succeed and reach your maximum potential.

As a member of a healthy and productive tribe, it is essential that each author add to and draw from the collective wisdom. With the rapidly changing publishing environment, creative professionals are taking risks and trying new tricks and techniques to attract readers. There is no need to rerun the same experiments individually when we can learn from each other. In addition, we all have connections, knowledge, and skills from outside of writing. By making that learning available to each other freely, we enable each other to write better stories.

At our cores, humans are social creatures. We need friends and family to help us define our place in the world. We depend on our relationships to help us maintain our sanity and humanity. We learn from both the positive and negative examples of others, taking inspiration and cautionary tales from those around us. No matter how introverted, maintaining healthy relationships is necessary. It makes no difference whither you find your support group on the forums of NaNoWriMo, at a convention, or even by accident on social media. Find your tribe however you can and treasure their friendship.

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