Monday, October 18, 2010

The Value of Professional Organizations

Every now and then, I hear from a writer who will go on and on about the waste of professional organizations. To these writers, these groups are nothing more than a money suck and a group of people who try to narrow their writing down into something it isn't. When I hear these people complain, I can only shake my head and feel sorry for them. There is really nothing that, I think, can change their thinking. I guess I am also sorry for them because clearly, something, or someone in their past got them thinking this way.

Now before I go any further, I have to stress that a writer needs to pick the right professional writing organization. Simply jumping into the first group that offers the chance to move closer to publishing isn't going to do it. I should also stress that everything I talk about here today also applies to those writing chapters in the larger organizations. The simple fact is, if you pick an organization that isn't going to work with your writing, then it will not be right for you. In all likelihood, you will be like that person I mentioned earlier.

These groups do a lot more than simply have a conference each year and put out a journal. Professional organizations provide a chance for networking. I see these groups as being a huge information buffet. I absorb the information I get from those that have been around the block before and those that are simply taking their first steps.

This isn't simply about "inside secrets" of publishing but information about EVERYTHING! I have gotten great tips for writing from people who are still on the quest for "the call" and have barely finished their first book. In fact, one of those writers provided me the information I needed on mapping their story for a book I am working on now.

I do have to add that professional organizations give you to what you put into them. For those writers that have gotten upset with an organization that made a change in a direction that didn't match their needs, I ask, "what did you do about it?" You are a part of that group too and you could have made the changes in a different direction just like those people who shifted it the other way. I am always amazed at the lack of participation at the Annual General Membership meeting at RWA. It's always funny but the people who get upset with things that RWA does are the ones who saw that meeting time as a chance to hang out with friends or see the sights of the town.

The point is, really get to know what you can get out of these organizations. You might amaze yourself and find a new glimmer of hope and maybe even closer to that publishing career than you think.



  1. I agree. You get out of it what you put into it. I joined RWA and two chapters only six months ago, and already I've found wonderful writing friends, mentors, advice, industry news... The list goes on and on! I wasn't able to attend RWA in Orlando this year, but I'm already looking forward to RWA NYC next year and I'm excited to take part in the workshops. There's so much to learn in this business, a writer can't learn it all alone. I can't say enough good things about being a part of RWA!

  2. Thanks for the advice. I was on the fence about these types of organizations but you've raised a couple of points that have me reconsidering.