Thursday, July 21, 2016

We Need Each Other by Heidi Chiavaroli

When I was growing up, my mother used to tell me a story about my great-great-grandmother. My mémère lived to be one hundred and two, and guess what? She was a writer.

She wrote a book when she was a young adult. And of course, back then, you didn’t just click a mouse and send off a query. You sent the whole kit and caboodle. Every chapter, every page, every sentence you had sweat over. All of it, off to an editor who would hopefully mail your baby back to you.

Well, my grandmother’s manuscript did get returned. Rejected. And, not having any other person’s encouragement or opinion, my grandmother destroyed her hard work. She took the rejection to mean she didn’t have what it took. She couldn’t be a writer.

I’m convinced that if I lived in the same time as my grandmother, that would have also been me. But because I live in a different time, with different opportunities, I was encouraged in different ways. If you don’t have the support you need as a writer, consider seeking out an option or two below.

National Writer’s Groups and Organizations – When I first felt the urge to write seriously ten years ago, I went to one of my favorite author’s websites. Karen Kingsbury listed a number of writing organizations and I picked the one I thought would suit me best—American Christian Fiction Writers. They were phenomenal. Not only did they hook me up with a critique group, which I am still with, but they gave me a scholarship to attend my first national conference, where I met a handful of amazing women who have encouraged me over the years. It’s been fun to watch some of them go on to become bestselling authors. 

Local Groups – If you prefer meeting with other writers in person, check out your local library. Chances are someone knows of a local group of writers.

Critique Groups – Okay, I know I mentioned this above, but really, I can’t talk critique partners up enough! You can sharpen one another’s writing, and encourage at the same time. I don’t know how many times I’ve felt ready to give up only to have one or both of my critique partners encourage me. No one can encourage like another writer. Share the journey.

Conferences – Not only can you meet agents and editors in the industry at conferences, but you can form more connections with other writers, both new and farther along on the journey. No one can encourage you, sympathize with you, and rejoice with you, like other writers!

Websites and Blogs (Such as this one!) – Many authors have resources for writers on their websites. Or subscribe to blogs such as this one to get that daily encouragement.

There’s one thing all these options have in common: they each connect us to other writers. 

Writing can be a solitary journey. But I’m convinced that if my grandmother had any of these resources at her disposal, she wouldn’t have felt so badly after that first rejection. She may have continued to write, maybe even kept her stories for me to read one day.

We need each other! So don’t be a stranger. Speak up, get connected, and get writing!

Heidi Chiavaroli is an author, runner, wife, mother, and grace-clinger—not necessarily in that order. Ever since taking her first trip to Plimoth Plantation with her sister, mother, and grandmother at the age of nine, she has been fascinated with history and its significance to today’s people and culture. Heidi is the winner of ACFW’s 2014 Genesis Contest, Historical Category. Her debut novel will release next year from Tyndale Publishers. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband, two sons, and Howie, her standard poodle. Learn more about Heidi on her website: