A career in writing sounds like an introvert’s dream, doesn’t it? Spending long hours on your laptop, racking up word counts for clients around the world, sipping coffee as you stare out the cafe window between assignments…
To some extent, it’s true that you can build a freelance writing career in solitude. The internet is the introvert’s greatest ally, after all! We can host meetings, network with peers, and take on new collaborations without ever leaving the house.
As a 50/50 introvert and extrovert, I certainly love that I can retreat into the comfort of solitude when I feel like I need it, without sacrificing my income or network.
But even if you’ve blissfully traded in you 9-5 life for the sweet solitude of writing, staying in your own head all day can have less-than-pleasant effects. Some of those include depressive thought patterns, anxiety and panic, and a sense of disconnect from the rest of the world (not the good kind).
Mental impact aside, as a professional writer whose work is often informed by the world around her, it’s worth exchanging ideas and getting fresh perspectives from others.
Thankfully, it’s easier than it has ever to connect with your peers, on and offline.
Here are some of our favorite ways to connect with other writers—even if (perhaps especially if?) you’re an introvert.
With just a few clicks, joining a Facebook group full of like-minded writers can open you up to an entire network of people who understand what you’re going through.
Many groups host fun ways to interact like theme days, writing challenges, and threads designed to connect those with similar interests.
There are a lot of great writing groups out there, and we humbly suggest you join ours first! The Freelance Writing Cafe Facebook group is growing steadily and is full of ambitious, supportive freelancers who love to share and connect.
There are also groups for writers who travel, writers who blog on the side, and writers who have specific career goals. There’s no topic too niche.
(And if you can’t find exactly what you’re looking for, start your own!)
Writing retreats are a great way to disconnect from the rest of the world and reconnect with other writers. They typically involve traveling to a specific location with a group of like-minded individuals and engaging in workshops, lectures, and discussions.
You’ll find retreats designed for a wide range of career goals and writing genres, from fiction authors to entrepreneurs. If you’re not ready to invest a lot of money in a retreat that involves travel, you can seek out online or local retreats as well.
Feeling ambitious? Organize a smaller retreat with friends in your own hometown, or have them jump on Skype at the same time each day for a virtual check-in.
Retreats work best when they’re short (3-5 days) and somewhat intense. Attendees let the rest of the world dissolve into the background for that short burst of time to work on a project or learn something about themselves, free from daily life’s distractions.
After a retreat you might have a finished piece of work on your hands—or some refreshing clarity about the future of your writing career.
This one is especially good if you’re feeling stagnant or need some inspiration. A writing challenge of any kind can reignite that creative—or competitive—flame.
You can find writing challenges by searching online and on social media, or by linking up with fellow writers and starting your own.
Challenges usually have a set time frame (ie: 3-5 days, much like a retreat) and have specific guidelines for succeeding.
In our Facebook group we have done challenges involving video lectures, free downloads, training on different topics, and milestone check-ins to keep everyone motivated. The winners of the challenges have gotten prizes like Amazon and Starbucks gift cards.
You can leverage the chance to make progress on a project as well as share work and ask for feedback.
Remember: You don’t need a large number of people to make this work. Even a one-on-one challenge can be fun and rewarding!
Host a Writer’s Brunch
There’s something irresistible about connecting with writers while sipping mimosas over a delicious menu. (My mouth is already watering just thinking about it!)
Imagine talking for hours on end bout everything you’ve been reading and writing while enjoying a beautiful daytime feast. Yes, I speak of brunch. And if you have room in your apartment—or a favorite restaurant—you can host one just for writers!
Once again, this doesn’t have to be a large gathering or particularly extravagant to be a great experience.
The brunch can have a professional element with a weekly progress check-in where everyone reports on their current goals before the drinks arrive—or just keep it casual.
Pick a date, time, and location. Create a Facebook event or Meetup.com event to bring your group of writers together for a delicious, inspiring afternoon.
To keep the brunch smaller and more intimate, you can email or call writers you know individually and invite them one by one.
If it goes well, you might even want to do it regularly and welcome to new writers to the table!
Start a Blog
This might sound like it’s still skirting the lines of solitude, but starting a blog is one of the most amazing ways to meet people.
In this case, I speak from experience. I’ve been posting on my lifestyle blog, Hey Mishka, since 2008. Writing blog posts for my own and other brands’ blogs opened up more doors for me than any traditional networking could have.
From meeting other bloggers at events to connecting with brands and niche experts, my network exploded in a very short time through my blogging efforts.
I also developed friendships with other bloggers and readers who left comments or re-shared my content.
Choose a niche or topic for your blog so that it stands out and you have some direction for the kind of posts you create. Try to develop a regular publishing schedule so you get into a habit of writing and sharing. (When it comes to ranking, Google’s algorithm tends to like regular updates, too.)
Apart from just blogging, be sure to share your work on social media—even profiles like LinkedIn, which you may not immediately think of sharing on. Your professional network will be surprised and delighted to see what you’re up to outside of typical job status updates.
You can blog on sites like Medium or on a traditional blogging platform like WordPress. I recommend installing WordPress on a self-hosted website so you can have more control over your content.
Sidebar: We’re talking about networking today, but blogging can also be a great way to increase your authority in a specific niche! Adding a blog to your portfolio can help you increase organic traffic and show off your expertise, while helping you stay up to date on relevant topics.
Local Meetup Groups
Another wonderful way to meet other writers is to chat them up in-person. Meetup.com has an epic amount of writing meetups listed, each full of writers who have the same goal: connect, build relationships, and have some fun along the way.
Apart from Meetup, you can check out sites like Eventbrite, local blogs, newsletters or Instagram event announcements.
That bulletin board in your local coffee shop is bound to have some intriguing goings-on to investigate, too. Why not see what’s happening in your neighborhood?
If your inner introvert is cringing right now, you can always bring a friend with you to make things a little less awkward. Having one person in the room who you know can give you that boost of confidence to chat up other writers.
Join a Mastermind
A “mastermind” might sound a little bit intimidating, but they’ll be right up your alley if you’re serious about your writing goals—which, obviously, you are!
A mastermind is usually an intimate group of people with a common goal of some kind. They gather regularly (on or offline) to discuss work and give constructive, thoughtful feedback.
The goal of the group is to make progress and uncover insight collectively. It will usually be less casual than a general meetup and may include work sessions, Q&A, and accountability like reporting on goals you set during the last meeting.
A good mastermind will contain people whose opinions you value, and members that have an active interest in the success of the other members.
Try to join one that has members who are more advanced than you in some way. This will encourage you to grow and challenge yourself while learning from peers who are a few steps ahead of you.
If you have trouble finding one, go ahead and start your own!
The chance to talk shop, share resources, exchange feedback, and just connect with those experiencing a similar career trajectory can do wonders to ground and center you.
It can even provide those elusive feelings of motivation and validation. You can also find accountability, friendship, and new ideas that you may not have come across on your own.
So! At the end of the day, it’s a good idea to snap out of that solitude occasionally and connect with other writers. I hope this little guide has given you some inspiration for making those connections.
Don’t forget to join the Freelance Writing Cafe Facebook group! We’ll see you there.
Hero image licensed via Creative Market.
Other images licensed via Twenty20.
This post originally appeared on Day Job Optional in April 2017. It has been edited for Freelance Writing Cafe.