Friday, January 23, 2009

Invest in Your Writing: Associations

Writing can be lonely. We tuck ourselves away in our home or in a coffee shop or behind a set of headphones and try to lock away the world as we get our thoughts on paper or a computer screen. For this part of the process we only need ourselves.

But, after the actual writing-then what? What if you have questions? What if you want someone to critique your work? What if you need resources? This is when we need the help of others and writers associations are the perfect place to find that extra support. They are way to connect with other writers and to stay in tune with the publishing world.

There are many different types of writing associations, so you need to do the research to find the one or ones that fit your needs. Here are some things to take into account when you are looking for an association for you:

What do you need?
The first thing you need to do is decide what you need from the association. Do you want something to look good on your resume? Are you looking to connect with other writers? Are you looking for classes and workshops? Think about and even write down, everything you hope to get as a result of joining a writers association.

National or Regional?
Once again, think about what you want. National organizations tend to offer resources like legal advice or discounted health insurance and maybe an annual conference. Regional groups may not be able to offer the legal help, but they typically have luncheons, classes and networking opportunities.

Published or Unpublished
Some groups have publishing requirements to ensure that all members are at a certain level in their writing career. Others do not. For instance, the Authors Guild requires that you have a book published by an established publisher or that you have had three pieces published in national magazine in the past 18 months. The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) has two levels of membership, one for published and one for non-published. My organization, Northern Colorado Writers, is more of a come as you are group and does not have any publishing requirement.

Benefits
Research what you will get from the organization as a member. Do you get discounts to classes? Do you get a place to advertise your website or book? Do you have access to a special section of the website where you can find great resources? Find out what you get by becoming a member and decide if you are getting what you need.

Dues
Most writing associations charge dues. These funds help cover the actual costs of running the group and may help pay salaries of staff. The other reason dues are collected is to ask for a commitment from the members. We tend to value what we pay for and by paying association dues, you are saying that you value your writing.

Being part of a organization devoted solely to writers, helps us all get out of our self-inflicted bubbles and stay connected to others who have the same passion for writing that we do. I hope you will consider investing in your writing by joining a writers association.

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Click here to begin researching different organizations
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**Next I will talk about finding and getting the most out of a writers conference**

Previous posts in this series
Invest in Your Writing: Make a Decision
Invest in Your Writing: Resources

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