Posted On September 2, 2013 by Print This Post

Building a Network with Jenna Rutland

I love this post!   It’s all goodness when Jenna discusses the amazing ways she’s found to connect and stay inspired!

As writers, we often are reminded that writing is a solitary life. We sit at our 0032desks, at our computers, or in front of a notebook, creating stories that fill our minds. Having family and friends to support us is essential. They encourage us, have our backs when the going gets tough, and help take on added duties so we can write. While all those things are important, we need more.

I’m sure we’ve all experienced the glazed-over look in our friends and families’ eyes when we’re excited about a project, and we spew words and phrases such as POV, plot points, and black moments. We have a short period of time to capture their attention before they’re lost. That’s not saying they don’t support us. It’s not that they aren’t proud of us. But for the most part, they don’t get what we’re saying.

While we all need the support of our friends and family, there’s an equally important group of supporters—the support from other writers. These are the people who want to hear about your hero and heroine’s journeys. About their growth arcs. Who understand the roller coaster ride of getting and staying published.

For me, I truly enjoy sitting at a table with other writers, each sharing their knowledge, what they’ve recently learned about writing or the publishing world, and their ideas when you’re stuck on a storyline.

I’ve been blessed to have found the other writers in my life. I have a wonderful local RWA chapter that I belong to. We’re small—about 25—who are all at various stages in our writing careers. We have people who are just beginning to write to well-known multi-published authors and everybody in between. We’ve gone just beyond a monthly meeting. The day of our meeting, several of us meet at a local breakfast place to share recent events in our writing lives. Soon after, more people join us and while we have a yummy breakfast, we hold a workshop where we discuss a pre-determined topic. We might have a mini-craft workshop regarding scenes, deep POV, or dialogue, or we might simply have a writing prompt.

After that, we move on to the local library where our business meeting is held. We’ll discuss old and new business, review our own personal goals from the previous month and set new ones for the upcoming month. Many times we’ll have a guest presentation. We’ve had the local coroner, a fireman, and a deputy sheriff talk to us about their jobs. We’ve had agents and editors visit. And we have members of our group discuss topics that they excel in. We then move on to lunch where, again, we talk about writing.

Some may say this sounds like overkill. But for me, it’s a day I look forward to every month. It fills my writing well. I come home rejuvenated to write, and I always come away from that day having learned something good related to writing.

There are a small group of us who meet every Saturday morning. We call ourselves the BIC group—butt in chair. Meeting at a local Panera, we call our Saturday morning sessions Panera Prison (sorry Panera). We spend our first hour chit-chatting writer-related topics before separating to various tables where we work diligently for the next 2, 3 or even 4 hours on our current writing projects. Some may work on a blog post or their current WIP. Writing this article today, I’m sitting in a booth at Panera. 

The idea behind this is removing ourselves from home and all its distractions. I know what you’re thinking—I’m a crazy person to think of a popular coffee shop as having no distractions. Yes, of course, there are. But sitting in my own little spot, headphones on and listening to Pandora, I’m actually able to block everything out and concentrate on writing. It’s what I’m there for. There’s no laundry begging to be washed, no hungry person looking to be fed, and no guilt that I’m ignoring my family. Surprisingly, it can be a very productive time for me, but I know it’s not for everyone.

One of my most favorite times of the year is our annual Fall Brainstorming event, for which I am the chairperson. For one weekend in September, we rent a lake cottage in Michigan from Friday through Sunday. Anyone in our writing group is invited and those who can attend share the cost of the cabin. We have our meals potluck-style. The weekend is devoted to brainstorming and writing. We’re disciplined enough to have a schedule, while incorporating great laughs, amazing food, and even a glass or two of wine in the evenings.

We take turns using a 20 minute time frame to brainstorm something we need help with. It can be anything from a kernel of an idea to a specific scene in our WIP. At the end of those 20 minutes, we go on to the next person. At the end of an hour, we break and have an hour of writing before digging in to more brainstorming. It’s a fun, intense, and incredibly productive weekend. It’s not uncommon for us to brainstorm upwards of 30 stories by the time the weekend is over.

Some of the above may not be for everyone. But I truly believe it’s important for a writer to develop some kind of support group with other writers. Check with your local library or university about possible writing groups, see if there’s an RWA chapter near you, or hook up with a group or two online. In this wonderful world of social media, I bet there are writers out there looking for you!

***

How do you connect with other authors? 

On Wednesday, Damon Suede stops by to talk about myths and tropes.

***

9781622668786_500His temptation. Her secret. Their summer.
Dani Sullivan has come to Lake Bliss to write her latest cookbook and take a breather. After the year she’s had, she deserves a summer retreat to reevaluate priorities and make peace with past decisions. But from the moment single dad and sheriff Matt Reagan shows up, she has a hard time convincing herself that a life away from Lake Bliss could beat the life she might have here.
Recently divorced Matt is ready for a new relationship, but he doesn’t want short-term—his son needs permanence, and so does Matt’s heart. Unfortunately, it’s the smart-mouthed and sinfully sexy Ms. Sullivan who catches his eye. But when Matt learns Dani’s secrets, will he still want her to stay? Or will her chance for love last just for the summer?

Bio:

Jenna Rutland lives in a small Michigan community with her husband, son and senior cat. Her daughter and son-in-law have recently given Jenna the awesome title of grandmother!

While her days are spent working as a medical transcriptionist, her nights are filled writing contemporary romance—stories of love, laughter and happily ever after. Guess which occupation is more fun?

She is a member of RWA and is active in her local chapter. After several years on the MVRWA board, she now chairs the group’s annual fall brainstorming weekend as well as acts as food coordinator for several other events.

Jenna takes pleasure in spending time with her family. She also enjoys reading, gardening and loves the challenge of a new recipe.

She welcomes the chance to connect with writers and readers. Head to her Connect page to join her on Facebook or Twitter, sign up for her newsletter, or e-mail her.

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Discussion

11 Responses to “Building a Network with Jenna Rutland”

  1. Thank you to Robin and Romance University for letting me guest blog today!

    Posted by Jenna Rutland | September 2, 2013, 8:01 am
  2. Hi Jenna,

    I belong to two writers groups. It’s great to see everyone’s progress and success.

    Mary Jo

    Posted by Mary Jo Burke | September 2, 2013, 10:21 am
  3. Morning Jenna!

    I live out in the boonies…the nearest writing group is a 3 hour drive – so I rely on email. Some days the emails fly fast and furious, sometimes it’s weeks in between, but they’re always there for me!

    Thanks so much for joining us at RU! Great post!

    carrie

    Posted by Carrie Spencer | September 2, 2013, 11:44 am
  4. I would be lost without my writing friends. Thanks for getting the word out to writers to hook up.

    Posted by Shay Lacy | September 2, 2013, 7:23 pm
  5. Shay, So glad you’re one of my support peeps!

    Thanks for stopping by!

    Posted by Jenna Rutland | September 2, 2013, 7:38 pm
  6. I love the idea of escaping to a coffee shop to work on a project – I too have the guilt of ignoring my family when I work – what a perfect way to put all of that to the back of your mind! I have some wonderful writer friends online. It’s a wonderfully supported profession.

    Posted by Fiona Chapman | September 3, 2013, 9:17 am
  7. Hi, Fiona!

    I totally agree with you about the support. I think many professionals have a fear of sharing their knowledge, but writers are just the opposite. They happily share the tricks of the trade. Aren’t we lucky?

    Thanks for the comment.

    Posted by Jenna Rutland | September 3, 2013, 9:20 am
  8. I like to work at our library. It’s pretty quiet, and there are people around, but they aren’t asking me for something to eat!

    Posted by Laurie Evans | September 5, 2013, 4:09 pm
  9. Exactly, Laurie! Those people I can ignore. LOL! I really didn’t think I’d be able to work in that environment, but I can! Yay! Glad it works for you, too.

    Thanks for your comment.

    Posted by Jenna Rutland | September 5, 2013, 4:23 pm

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