Thursday, September 7, 2017

Every Writer Needs a Team

by Lynn Blackburn @LynnHBlackburn

Teamwork for writers!
Last month, I shared what I learned from the book Grit—The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Dr. Angela Duckworth and how it applies to the writing life. If you haven’t read that one, you might want to pop over there first and read the post, A Book To Help Writers Persevere. I’ll wait.

Done? Good. Glad you’re back. :)

That post was already way too long, so I saved something to share with you this month.

In Grit, there are multiple anecdotes about elite swimmers—what makes them so good, what separates the champions from the talented, that kind of thing.

Near the end of the book the author shares an interview with a man who has studied elite swimmers for three decades. After affirming the author’s thoughts on how important grit is he said, “But I left out the most important thing. The real way to become a great swimmer is to join a great team.”

When I read that line I stopped and took a picture of the paragraph so I’d have it in my phone. Because while I don’t doubt it’s true for elite swimmers, I know from first-hand experience—it’s true for writers, too.

Friends, while you may do your writing in solitude, if you want to be a great writer, you’re going to need to find a great team. You need to surround yourself with writers who will push you to be better. Writers who will walk with you through the before, early, and “I can’t remember what it’s like not to be on a deadline” stages of publication.

If you’re sitting at home reading blog posts and books on the craft, but no one knows you’re writing, then you can’t expect great success. This is not a journey you want to take alone, not only because it’s lonely, but because it’s horribly inefficient. You will waste countless hours, months, even years reinventing the writing wheels others have been rolling on for a while. Please, don’t do this!

There is no substitute for being in the writing trenches with others who are willing to encourage, critique, pray, and cheer for (or cry with) you. Your “team” might be made up of one other person, or it might be made up of a group of people you meet with weekly, monthly, in-person, or on-line. But make no mistake. You need a great team!
So where do you find these people?

Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

1. Google it. Check to see if there’s a writing group in your area. If you find one (and you probably will) go to a meeting. Scared? Great. Show up scared. Drag a non-writing friend along (bribe them with coffee or buy their dinner beforehand) if you need to. But show up.

2. Attend a conference. Again, Google can help you here. So can this website. Not sure what conferences are good? Ask us in the comments. Send me a DM on Twitter. I’m serious about this. There’s no reason to keep trying to do it on your own. If you’ll dip your toes in the ocean of writers, you’ll find that 99% of us don’t bite. :) We may not be able to personally mentor you, but we’ll be happy to point you in the direction of quality conferences or writing workshops.

By the way, you don’t have to spend a fortune or take a week off of work to make connections that can alter your career trajectory. There are lots of weekend events, Saturday afternoon classes, etc. taught by published authors and attended by the writers you’re wanting to meet who already live in your area.

3. Use social media. Admittedly, this will require you coming out of the writing closet and letting everyone know what you’re up to, but again, if you want to succeed, you’re going to have to do that sooner or later. Get on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter and ask the question, “Local friends: Are there any writing groups in the area?” I have writing friends all over the country. You can tag me on your post and I’ll share it and see if we can’t find someone local to you. There’s a good chance you’ll be able to find a local Word Weavers group, a local chapter of ACFW, or other groups that aren’t affiliated with an organization but are excellent places to hone your craft.

4. Still can’t find anyone in person? Go for an online option. There are some wonderful online critique groups offered through Word Weavers and ACFW. (And probably others—if you’re in one share it in the comments). Writers have made invaluable connections through these associations. I am in a couple of online groups with women I have never met in person, yet I consider them to be crucial to my writing process.

5. Pray. You have access to the One who knows everybody. (Why do we forget that?) If you need a team, pray for them and then be open to the possibilities God sends your way.
There is no way I would be where I am if I hadn’t taken the first terrifying steps to put myself and my writing out there in front of strangers (who quickly became friends).

Are you ready?
Tell us about it in the comments.

Don’t forget to join the conversation!

Every writer needs a team - wisdom from @LynnHBlackburn on @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

Tips to help a writer find a team - @LynnBlackburn on @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

Lynn Huggins Blackburn believes in the power of stories, especially those that remind us that true love exists, a gift from the Truest Love. She’s passionate about CrossFit, coffee, and chocolate (don’t make her choose) and experimenting with recipes that feed both body and soul. She lives in South Carolina with her true love, Brian, and their three children. Her first book, Covert Justice, won the 2016 Selah Award for Mystery and Suspense and the 2016 Carol Award for Short Novel. Her second book, Hidden Legacy, releases June 2017. You can follow her real life happily ever after on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and at


  1. Got Grit! It's an informative and encouraging book. A truly worthy read.

    As encourager yourself, your suggestions for finding an advisory board team for writers is a worthy action for advanced writers as well as beginners.

    Share on!

  2. Another great post, Lynn.
    I'd been trying to find a writer's group in my area with no success. One meets on Wednesdays and the other on Saturday mornings, both school days. Another meets early mornings when I am at work. Yet the one that's closest to me and convenient (Tuesday evenings) is full.
    I hope I can find a face to face group soon.
    In the meantime, I will keep praying.
    Yes, writers need to be team players.

    1. Thank you. And blessings on you as you search for a group. You might want to consider an on-line Word Weavers group. I know there are readers of The Write Conversation who have more info on those...hopefully someone will chime in here! It's not the same as face-to-face (which I always prefer) but it's been a blessings to those who have work schedules/life schedules/geographical issues that make face-to-face impossible.

    2. Thank you, Lynn.
      I haven't heard of Word Weavers before but I will make sure to check it out.