Virtual Writing Tribes

Non-writers would assume social distancing and self quarantine would be a writer's dream come true. Except for many of us, it's the opposite. Most members of the DFW Writers' Workshop thrive on the in person read and critique, and the socialization that comes with a mutual love for the writing craft. And a love of IHOP's mozzarella sticks and pancakes. So far, 2020 has put a lid on that part of the workshop, but has opened the door for virtual out reach. 

Daniel Link, debut author of MACKLIN MYSTERIES CryWolf by Fawkes Press available October 1st, 2020 describes his experience as a new, virtual member of the workshop and how it has impacted his writing and getting through the slog of isolation. 





My first exposure to DFW Writers' Workshop was at the conference in 2018. Sitting in on a Read and Critique (the most underutilized sessions, in my opinion), I was taken with the level of detail in the critiques, and the professionalism of the panel. I left the conference wishing something like that was available near me. I returned to the conference in 2019, where I had a fabulous experience in the Read and Critiques and sat in on a handful of sessions. Again, I wanted regular access to that level of feedback. Enter 2020.

Like everyone else, my plans went to shit. I was booked to come to DFWCon, my first novel launches in October, and I had plans to attend BoucherCon to promote it. To say I was disappointed is an understatement. When I heard DFW Writers' Workshop would switch to Zoom meetings for a while, I was thrilled. I suppose something had to go right this year.

These days, staying connected is key to surviving, and I mean a real connection, not a like on Facebook or a Tweet about your political views. The Zoom meetings can't replace actual face-to-face contact, but to share a story, a laugh, a moment with another human, that's what we need right now. I live in Northern California, and I've seen people as far away as London on the meetings. I hope more people from outside commuting distance are taking advantage. It's a rare opportunity, and not to be squandered.

Writing is all about momentum. You hear the advice all the time, in endless variations: write everyday, or at least set a consistent schedule. It's the secret to productivity, to improvement, and to becoming a professional. Showing up to the keyboard, even if it's only for half an hour after your day job, is like dress rehearsal for your writing life. In this, as in so many ways, 2020 has been a momentum killer.

The malaise that hangs like a smoke cloud over the world has hit writers especially hard. Let's face it, in general, we're not the most confident lot. You'd think that the forced time at home would be a writer's dream, the retreat we're always threatening to run off to. Now, more than ever, we should be finding ways to get out of our heads and onto the page, to escape if only for a minute to a world of our choosing. Instead, this year has sapped many writers of their strength, infected them with doubt, and paralyzed their writing.

I can't say DFWWW is immune, but I log into the Zoom meetings and see forty writers a week committed to showing up and critiquing, if not reading. That's forty writers who refuse to let the world's unrest stop their momentum. That's forty writers that have the support they need to keep working and escaping. I'm grateful to have had the chance to join you this year, and to be a part of what you've built.

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