Writing Community Goes Way Beyond Social Media

By Jason Boog Comment

andrewfitzgerald
Isaac

Isaac Fitzgerald

Author Meghan Ward led a “Networking for Introverts” panel at the Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP) conference in Los Angeles last week.

“Find your people,” BuzzFeed Books editor Isaac Fitzgerald told the audience. “That’s what networking is, whether it’s online or offline.”

Fitzgerald recalled a literary event that never found traction on social media. With five minutes to spare, the author’s tight-knit community of writers showed up and filled every seat in the house—despite the fact that most of the group didn’t have Facebook accounts.

“I thought this event was dead because I didn’t see it on social media, but it was actually a wonderful, wonderful night,” Fitzgerald concluded. “It’s all about finding the network that works for you.”

“That opportunity is available to everybody. You just have to show up!” added panelist Sophfronia Scott, an author who regularly drives 65 miles to attend literary events in New York City.

Sophfronia

Sophfronia Scott

“I have the Poets & Writers app on my phone, and I regularly check it for events that are happening … I go to meet people in person. That’s huge: to support, to show up. There are editors who show up for readings. There are agents there. It’s a huge opportunity to be there, and it’s a learning experience.”

She urged introverts to make the journey to meet other writers in real life, no matter how difficult the journey is (both logistically and emotionally).

Panel moderator Meghan Ward shared a final tip for networking, recommending that introverted writers head offline for practice:

“Practice pushing your boundaries by talking to strangers, doing public readings, or speaking up in front of a group. Like learning to play an instrument, the more you practice, the easier it will be.”

Jason Boog is a journalist and the author of “Born Reading: Bringing Up Bookworms in a Digital Age.”

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