By Ambrielle Butler
The blinking cursor on the screen mocked me as I struggled to put words on the page. Life had been busy, sickness was going around, and the motivation to write had been slim. Now, I finally had the time, but no words came to mind.
I did what all writers do when procrastinating: opened Twitter and started to scroll. I came across a few book announcements and read the threads as they thanked their editors, agents, beta readers, and support groups. I couldn’t help but think that writing would be so much easier if I was surrounded by other writers, people that you could celebrate the joys of having your work published with and to lament with about the writing process. After all, writing a novel, while wonderful and rewarding, comes with its own peculiar set of challenges understood only by those who have struggled to translate the world in their heads into words on the page.
With the new year coming and new writing goals being made, I decided this would be the year that I focus less on querying stats and word counts and more about genuine connection. I sent out a tweet in search of like-minded writer friends, hoping maybe to grab the attention of a dozen writers in the same predicament as I was, and called it a night.
The response I woke up to was tremendous.
My tweet was viewed by hundreds of thousands of writers. I gained almost a thousand new followers and had hundreds of comments on my tweet. It seemed that I was not alone in my search for other writers who wanted to motivate and support each other.
Writing is often an isolating process. We draft alone. We edit alone. We query alone. Occasionally, we will get feedback from alpha or beta readers or an encouraging email from an agent or publisher. But the process of creating a book, crafting a story, finding the right words to make it come alive on the page, is all accomplished on our own.
Yet, the end goal always remains the same: connection. We want our story to connect to readers. We want someone to pick our book off the shelf, immerse themselves in our world, and come away understanding life a little more like us. It’s an exchange— we give them our stories, and they give us their time.
But in order to achieve this, we first have to share our work with others. It is for this reason that connection during the writing process is so vital. Allowing other writers, people who share the same goal as us, to read our work offers invaluable insight into how we can better our novels. It is not enough to simply write, but to write well requires feedback.
Something I’ve come to understand recently is that writing can also be a discouraging process. I have been querying for almost a year now. Having friends who understand the disheartening process of querying, submissions, agents, and publishers, can help motivate writers through even the most disheartening rejections. Knowing that you have people rooting for you can make all the difference when you are told no time and time again. After all, publishing is a numbers game. So much of it relies on timing, chance, and subjectivity. We need motivation to keep on going, and sometimes, having that group of friends rallying behind us, is all we need to achieve our goals.
This tweet led to an unexpected whirlwind of a couple days. It was thrilling to connect with so many writers at all stages of the process. The writing community on Twitter is one of the most supportive and friendly groups I’ve ever had the privilege of meeting. I was able to join a couple of chats and forums for writer connection. I even was able to make my own group for more specific goal-making to keep me on track for the new year and to cheer each other on as we celebrate our writing achievements.
They say that no man is an island. No writer is either. I’m honored to be surrounded by so many talented writers with stories to share. 2023 is looking a little brighter with new friends to lift each other up, cheer each other on, and help each other get our stories out into the world where they belong.
Ambrielle Butler is a poet and writer from Texas. Her work can be found or forthcoming in publications like Valley Voices, On the Seawall, Plainsongs, The Loch Raven Review, Giving Room Mag, Red Ogre Review, and others. You can find her on Instagram and Twitter @ajbutlerwriting or at her blog (ambriellebutler.wordpress.com)