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Happy Writer Guest – Julie Rowe

Today’s Happy Writer guest, Julie Rowe, took her unhappy isolation into her own hands and created a support system to make her feel less alone.  Just goes to show, we can do anything we really want to do if we think outside the box! – Shannon

Most writers are familiar with feelings of isolation and loneliness because it’s the nature of what we do; our singular passion. We might work with editors, agents and other publishing professionals, but when it comes time to put words on a page, we’re alone.Despite our need for alone time to write, we also need time to connect with other writers, bounce ideas around and discuss books. We need a writing community to help refill our mental gas tanks with inspiration and knowledge.

When I started writing, over ten years ago, I understood that I was more isolated than most. I live in a small city in northern Alberta, Canada that’s a 4 ½-hour drive from anywhere. The nearest writer’s group is in Calgary – an 8-hour drive away. I knew I would feel lonely sometimes, but had no idea how bad it would get.

It was depressing to have no one to talk to face-to-face. I joined Romance Writers of America (RWA) and several online chapters, but it was still tough. I wanted to learn, but I was too far away to attend regular chapter meetings. I went to RWA’s national conference, but conferences are expensive, and I couldn’t afford to go to more than one or two in a year.

About that time, online writing classes started appearing. I love learning almost as much as I love writing. My problem was, I’d find out about a wonderful-sounding class, only to discover I’d missed it. There was no centralized place to find out about classes, no listing, no nothing. So, I decided to do an intensive search to find classes and found a ton, and then thought, “Why don’t I share this?”

That’s how my yahoo loop Announce Online Classes was born in January 2006.

For the last five years, every month I post information on all the online classes I can find. It’s a lot of work, because when I started I was only posting 20 to 25 classes a month. Now it’s up to as many as 80, but it’s worth it. I’ve met so many wonderful writers because of the loop and learned so much from writers willing to share what they know.

That loop is my inspiration and my connection to other writers. (If you’d like to get connected just send an email to Announceonlinewritingclasses-subscribe@yahoogroups.com)

Becoming a Happy Writer means finding your community, wherever you can. It might be online or with a group that meets weekly to critique each others’ work, but find your community. Reach out, introduce yourself, volunteer, offer to help a fellow writer. You’ll be glad you did.

A double Golden Heart finalist in 2006, Julie Rowe has been writing for over ten years. She also teaches communication workshops at Keyano College in Alberta, and her work has appeared in numerous magazines such as Today’s Parent magazine, Reader’s Digest (Canada) and Canadian Living.  Her first book, Icebound, will be released by Carina Press in fall 2011.

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