I have been writing short stories, poetry and recently novels for as long as I can remember. It was always something I loved and has become so much more than just a hobby to me in recent years. In school I wrote because I was assigned to but would still get some time in for my own ideas. I did not participate in challenges like Nanowrimo back then but when I was assigned to write a short story or create my own ending for a story for creative writing class I would usually write two or three things then turn in my favorite.
I never joined a writing group even though part of me thought about it. To this day I have only attended one writer's group meeting. I am planning to try getting more involved but my insecurities are something I am going to battle when taking on that challenge. I know that joining a group can give insight as well as additional perspectives on your work but it is also very difficult to take that constructive criticism sometimes, especially face to face.
It is important to reach out and network with the community though and going to writers' groups, critique groups and conferences are a great way to branch out in the industry. When I attended a conference a few months ago I took almost thirty pages of notes but never asked a single question. It wasn't that I was afraid of sounding silly by asking a dumb question, I had no idea what questions to even ask. I realized just how much of a novice I still am when it comes to writing. I needed to learn so much more before trying to attend something like that again.
I read the book On Writing by Stephen King and it opened my eyes in a tremendous way. There were so many things that, even though a lot of it was his opinion, spoke to me and told me I was doing ok. It also showed me volumes of items I needed to add to me so-called writer tool kit. I have been woefully unprepared and what is worse I did not know it. I blindly took on the world as though I had all the answers when the fact of the matter was I did;t even know the questions.
I have since added books by Bob Mayer and KM Weiland to my books on the craft in order to help me learn more about the hobby turned potential career. this is what I want to do with my life so it is imperative that I do it well. Fingers crossed I am able to get past my fear and attend some writing group meetings in the near future as well and gain the information in the books. If anyone reading this has any suggestions of books I can read to also improve my writing I would greatly appreciate it!