Whitney and I share a lot about the whys and hows of joining a writers group or finding a few writing buddies. Why? Because getting feedback from other writers is the single most important factor in the success of your novel no matter how talented or hardworking you are. Without feedback, you are composing a work of art in a vacuum, with no idea how others encounter it.
Getting feedback has been so vital to me, in fact, that when I had the opportunity in Paris, recently, to attend a writers group, I couldn’t turn it down. It ended out to be one of my favorite parts of the trip.
You may be thinking, “Ugh! Why would anyone go to the trouble of meeting up with writers on VACAY?”
Here, I offer 7 reasons to set aside a tiny block of time to meet other writers while you travel:
#1 – Meeting creative people is rejuvenating, home or away
And isn’t that one of the things we want out of our vacations, to feel rejuvenated? I know I want that. But just think: meeting writers when you travel means you are free to be your story-building, possibility-creating self without the pressure of your daily responsibilities.
Forget about that board exam, your GPA, or the presentation you have to give when you return to work. Just create and enjoy the presence of other creative minds. You can even do this while you sit by the pool!
#2 – You expose yourself to another worldview
Just by virtue of traveling to a different part of the world, whether it’s the next town over or on the other side of the Pacific Ocean, you come across people who have different experiences and worldviews. Learning from others’ perspectives and even the setting itself can most definitely spark new ideas for your writing.
#3 – You see how your writing translates across state or national borders
There are fluent and native speakers of English all over the world, but each of us becomes accustomed to a unique set of cultural references, idioms, and prose styles, and humor.
A lot of this will come across in your writing and you’ll need to see how it fares when readers in the next state get their hands on your project.
Pay attention to:
- Whether everyone catches the references you make to that pop song.
- Whether readers laugh where you intended them to.
- Whether your region-specific themes have the potential to be understood universally.
#4 – You get insider recommendations for your trip
In addition to getting feedback on your writing, meeting with writers when you travel means you can ask them for insider recommendations on local food and culture. What do they like best about the city? What are the can’t-miss attractions that you won’t find on the tourist circuit? By meeting a writer, you get insider tips on entertaining yourself from someone who shares your interests.
#5 – You make valuable connections
It’s good to know people everywhere you go. Nowadays with Skype and social media, you can stay in touch with the writers you meet beyond the dates of your trip. That’s a whole lot of feedback and general social interaction that can be the makings of a great friendship.
#6 – You take home a cool souvenir
You should definitely cruise the gift shops for nifty tote bags, magnets, or whatever souvenirs you’re usually after. But think about taking home feedback–a fellow writer’s hand-written notes on your manuscript–priceless! And you know what it costs you? Your presence of mind and passion for the written word–things you already possess in abundance.
#7 – You leave a place better than you found it
At the same time that you get a cool souvenir, giving feedback to writers you meet when you’re traveling means you can leave the place better than you found it.
Contribute to a community or the locals or fellow travelers in a way that makes a positive impact on their lives.
Think about this: what if the measure of a good vacay is not how much we consume, how many sights we see, how many clever pics we take, or how many hours we spend by the pool? What if it’s about what we learn and the ideas and encouragement we give to others?
So, how do we actually meet writers?
Assuming English is your primary language, or one of them, remember that English-speaking expats are everywhere. Chances are some of them are writers, and it’ll be worth it to meet them. The easiest place to start is by reaching out to bookstores and libraries where you’re traveling. Even in foreign countries where English is not the primary language, you can often find bookstores devoted to literature in English, as I discovered in Paris.
You can also do a quick Google search of writers groups themselves: “writers groups London,” “writers groups Mexico City,” and so forth. If you don’t find a group, Google literary events, like poetry readings, lectures, exhibitions, and book signings, where you can strike up conversations with people who are interested in reading and writing.
Even meeting just one writer while you’re traveling can really add a lot of value to your trip. So I hope you try it and let us know how it goes!