So @chris_mahan challenged me to write a blog post about him. #challengeaccepted
— Rae Oestreich (@Rae_Slater) January 22, 2015
Sadly, though, Chris' ego will take a slight hit: this post isn't going to be entirely about him. This post is, actually, about the fact that one of the most important things that I've learned since entering the Twitter writing community, is that making connections and forging new friendships with people-no matter how alike or different you are-is incredibly important.
Something that I feel like people (me included) forget when writing, is that it's not as much as a single-person profession that many like to believe. Sure, there might be one person writing it (and all of the editing and team-work that goes into book releases is a completely different story), but never forget that every interaction you have in the world impacts you and your writing.
Every. Single. Interaction.
Particularly when it comes to interaction with other writers. If you want to be published traditionally, read self-pubbed, and vice-versa. If you're a fiction writer, read nonfiction and poetry, as well (and every combination thereof). Read short stories if you normally write novels. Trade pieces of writing and let yourself be critiqued.
These are all ways to make yourself not merely a better writer (which yes, is important to a certain level), but also a more rounded one. Every person and writer you meet will have different struggles in their life. Listen and share your own (although, disclaimer: only if you're close enough to actually share stories like those). Read styles that differ from your own, and ultimately take away from every encounter the fact that you can always learn something.
Which brings me back to Chris: he and a handful of other Tweeps have become a kind of go-to community for me. I've read their work and processed their writing styles; I've chatted to some of them at length about their writing processes, as well: how they plan out their novels, develop characters, etc. While not every trick that they use will work for me (and vice-versa; always remember that your process will be slightly or even majorly different than someone else), it's always worth thinking about, and observing how it plays out in their works as a whole.
As my nonfiction professor says: steal everything. And figure out how to make it work for you, which will invite you to think in new ways. In my experience, the information you get from actively interacting with other people (and writers) can be the most valuable knowledge you ever get.
Blogger @Rae_Slater says interacting with other writers not only makes you a better one, but a more rounded one. (Click to Tweet)