Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Writing Organizations

Writing organizations: useful or useless?

100% useful!

Slightly confusing signs
Photo by mukluk

I love the organizations I belong to: Romance Writers of America and American Christian Fiction Writers. Both offer tremendous resources for any writer. Each has a website filled with fantastic information for their members. There are online critique groups, writer loops, and they also have local chapters if you're lucky enough to live near one. Each hosts a national conference for members and sponsors prestigious writing contests for unpublished and published authors.

RWA also publishes a monthly magazine, Romance Writers Report, packed with helpful articles.

I've been blessed to live within driving distance to the local RWA chapter, Maumee Valley Romance Writers of America. You wouldn't believe the information about the publishing industry and writing in general that I've learned from other members. It's a boon to discuss queries and realize nailing the book's genre really is important. Or to attend a meeting and learn tips on a variety of topics like networking, writing the dreaded synopsis, promotion, and so forth. These reasons alone make it worthwhile.

I also appreciate the availability of a variety of affordable online workshops given by other RWA chapters. Many chapters host contests, and some even host small conferences.

However, what I most love about MVRWA is also what I love about blogging. I've made wonderful friends. Friends who understand the ups and downs of writing. Friends who support me whether I have good news or bad. Friends who share what they've learned, not because they have to, but because they're kind.

If a writing organization has a local chapter near you, give it a try. You don't have to write romance to belong to RWA.

I also wanted to welcome and thank all of the new followers. I'm looking forward to hearing your comments!

Join me on Friday when we'll discuss staying on top of industry news.


  1. I'm pleased to get your opinion on these organizations, because I've gone back and forth over whether either is right for me. And I've heard mixed things.

    For the record, you're one of those blogger buds who shares info because she's willing, not because she has to. ;) Thank you.

  2. Good Post Jill! I know I don't use the organizations I belong to as well as I should:( I need to go to one of our local ACFW meetings soon!

  3. Good morning!

    Janna: Most RWA chapters have a policy where you can visit for two meetings. Our chapter is small and really lively! I've also been a member of Virginia Romance Writers and I loved them too. Maybe you won't connect with every single member (we all have personalities, you know), but if you give it a few meetings, I guarantee you'll connect with a couple. For the record, I was so nervous about attending my first chapter meeting, I walked into the men's bathroom. I wish I could say it was the only time!

    Terri: We all have different needs when it comes to groups. I move a lot so making personal connections with other writers was tops on my list. All of the industry advice I've gotten has been icing on the cake!

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

  4. I've probably gotten the most out of (enjoyed my experience with) my blogging writer friends. ;D

    Happy Birthday!!!!!!!!!
    ~ Wendy

  5. You're reading my mind, today, Jill! I've been thinking about checking out my local RWA chapter. Maybe this was the push I needed. Thanks.

  6. Wendy: What would I do without you? Or the Internet? Shivers up and down my spine! Thanks so much!

    Heather: Check that chapter out. I mentioned in an earlier comment that most RWA chapters allow visitors to come to two meetings before joining. Try it! You might like it!

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

  7. Another benefit to being a member of writing organizations is that once you are published, many of them offer terrific marketing opportunities, within the organization and out. One here in CT hosts a booth for their published authors at a large 3-week fair that draws over one million attendees. Seems like pretty good exposure!

  8. Hi, Jill! I was a member of Jerry B. Jenkin's Christian Writer's Guild for a year, but that ran out. I really hope to join ACFW in a few months, even if I'm not able to go to a conference for a while.

  9. Happy Birthday, Jill! I wish you a day filled with family, friends and fun.

    I joined RWA soon after I began writing. I knew no other writers during the first two years I wrote since I'd not discovered the blogosphere or been brave enough to attend my local RWA chapter meeting. During that time, receiving the Romance Writers Report was the highlight of my month. That's how I learned about contests. I entered several and welcomed the valuable feedback from the judges.

    When I finaled in the Golden Heart in 2008, Tina Russo of The Seekers found me. A whole new world opened up. I began attending my local chapter meetings and joined ACFW and have been blessed beyond belief by both groups as well as the many others I've met through blogging.

    I encourage any new writer to get involved in a writing group. The support, instruction, encouragement, information, etc. are fantastic. Writing by nature is a solitary endeavor, so it's vital we connect with others to avoid the hermit experience I endured.

  10. I belong to the Kansas chapter of SCBWI. They have a few local events, but not many. As of now, I haven't been able to take advantage of what they offer. I hope to soon.

  11. I belong to a couple of organizations and the info. that I get is invaluable. I only wish I had a local group that I could be apart of too!

  12. Jill,
    This post is well-timed for me. I just started a creative writing course two weeks ago. It runs like a writing group. The mediator is very good, but I feel uncomfortable with the rest of the gang and am not sure it is going to be a good fit. Some of their writing topics are either offensive or of no interest to me. I do tend to be a bit of a loner and was trying to come out of it and interact with other writers, but now I am not sure that this is the best group for me. Your ideas were helpful and enlightening. Still not sure if I will continue or not. I am praying for a good critique partner to come my way.
    By the way, thanks for visiting my blog today and for your comments. I enjoy reading your posts and am learning a lot. Keep up the good work.

  13. Absolutely useful! I belong to both also and have learned SO much, the most being that writers are truly generous people. All I have to do is ask a question on any loop and people will take time out of their day to answer. :-) It's wonderful.

  14. Joanne: Wow! Pretty good exposure? I'd say phenomenal! I'm so glad you shared this with us!

    Kristen T.: I really like ACFW. I'm not as active in it as I am RWA, but the Loops and the course archives (with free online classes!) alone are worth it. I hope to go to one of their upcoming conferences.

    Keli: Thanks :) Yes, the contests are very helpful. And I love the Seekers! How awesome! I think most writers are intimidated by walking into their first chapter meeting. I know I was! But after a few sessions, you get to know people better and it feels natural. I'm so glad you shared this. Maybe someone else will get their courage up after reading your experience? Thanks!

    LazyWriter: That's another thing I like about the groups I belong to. There really isn't pressure to come to every meeting. You make it to the ones you can and that's it. I don't need any more pressure in my life at this point!

    Jody: Anytime you're in the Toledo area... :)

    Wendy L.: Not every group is a good fit. I think it takes a few sessions to feel it out. If your overall feeling is discomfort, you should reconsider belonging to that group. I also think there are times in our lives for some groups and times in our lives for others. Good for you for giving it a chance!

    Jessica: Isn't RWA incredible?? I love my chapter!

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

  15. Hi Jill -

    I belong to ACFW, and enjoy the loops. The Prayer Loop has been a source of comfort, and I've met many new friends on there.

    Susan :)

  16. Susan: I agree. ACFW is wonderful!

    Jan: Thanks so much!

    Thanks for stopping by!

  17. I'll have to look in my area to see what's out there! :)

  18. I love being part of ACFW. I'm seriously considering joining the RWA. I'd love to have a local group of writers to connect with. That's the main reason behind wanting to do NaNo again this year, to connect with local writers. Well, that and having a deadline!

  19. You're right on the mark, Jill. The support and guidance you get from these organizations really is the life blood for writers. I wouldn't be here today with my words the way they are without these organizations.

  20. i WISH i lived within driving distance to a local chapter. there's nothing where i live. my virtual chapter is about as good as it gets, though. :)

    The Character Therapist

  21. You are right writing organizations are so important. I wish we had a local RWA here, but we do have some other great writing groups!

  22. Hi Jill!

    Thanks for the welcome to your blog it is indeed my first visit. Since I am farely wet behind the ears to the various writing communities, it was helpful to hear of organizations that are making an impact writers.

    Locally I feel a little displaced in the writing world, I am praying about that. There seems to be a slue of online sources for networking and fellowship that I have not found yet at home in person.

    Thanks for your insight!
    Blessings to you...

  23. CMOM: If you go to the RWA website:, there's a tab listing local chapters for each state. You might want to try it. Also, libraries have information on smaller, local writing groups. Good luck!

    Erica: RWA also has a inspy chapter (online) called Faith, Love and Hope. I'm considering joining it too.

    Eileen: Talking to other writers has gotten me through many a frustrating period. I am very thankful for my writer's groups!

    Jeannie: Bummer. It must be frustrating to not have access to any groups. Have you considered the online RWA chapter--Faith, Love and Hope? It's for inspy writers.

    Kara: Wonderful! I'm glad you've found some useful groups!

    Tamika: Welcome! It's obvious your faith is important to you, since it comes forth in your comment. Consider ACFW. There are so many online resources through this group. It's terrific!

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

  24. Jill: Great post. I love RWA too. There really is something for every writer there - and you can get involved as much or a little as you want.

    When I worked at a lit agency in the city, it was always a good sign to me when I saw that someone had RWA listed in her bio. Also, part of the reason I was called in for my first interview there was because RWA was on my resume.

    Now I'm a newly published writer with two books coming out on Grand Central this year. And I very much have to credit RWA for that.

    Great post!

  25. Lisa: Welcome! I have nothing but good to say about RWA too. It's so nice to hear success stories from other writers. Congrats on your books!

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

  26. It's nice to hear that people are so happy with the organizations they belong to... some time ago I did a blog post on a paradox of the cost of these organizations and the fact that most unpubbed writers don't have the money to spend on them until they're published (or if they have a great day job!). RWA is far, far too expensive for me (which is sad!), but there are a few local groups I'm considering taking membership in because the cost is much lower. I'm sure the benefits of the larger organizations make up for the fees you pay... but I just wish that they didn't have to charge so much to begin with! :)


I love to hear from you!