How To Connect With Storytellers
Every storyteller needs a community of like-minded people who can encourage them to grow and who has as much passion for their stories as you do for your own. There is no one best place to meet like-minded individuals. Online, you can join a social network or discussion boards while in person, you might opt to attend conferences, join guilds, or find groups. The question then arises: which one is the best to join? Well, that depends on you. Let’s talk a bit about finding storytellers and what each option may offer to help you.
Finding Storytellers Online
Twitter is probably the easiest social media site to find storytellers since there is a large writing community. However, without understanding whom you’re connecting with and how Twitter works, you might not be able to form personal connections. For example, it’s easy to find and follow your favorite storytelling bloggers (such as Jeff Goins, K.M. Weiland, Joanna Penn to name a few) and then connect to them by reaching out to show your appreciation and enjoyment of their writing. You can retweet them and like all of their posts, yet this alone doesn’t make a personal connection. It also takes a bit of learning to understand which accounts to follow. If you’re just searching by topic, you might end up following spammers who only post about whatever it is they’re selling. So even though Twitter is easy to use to connect with others, there is the danger of your feed becoming nothing but spam.
“Every storyteller needs a community of like-minded people who can encourage them to grow and who has as much passion for their stories as you do for your own.”
Since Twitter is public and most connections are made through searches, you can also start acquiring followers relatively easily. By tweeting about your own life, experiences, and giving pearls of wisdom, you’ll start to see your followers grow. These followers may not always be the community you’re looking for, especially at first, but as they grow to trust you, they’ll be more inclined to take the communication outside of Twitter.
Not everything is easy on Twitter, however. Since tweets are limited to a certain character count, it makes it harder to discuss a topic in-depth without going to another site.
Facebook groups are another great place for you to meet other storytellers, and they don’t limit word count. However, the same caution used for Twitter must be applied to Facebook because there are many groups that are basically nothing more than spammed blog post promotions. Many groups have the rule that you can only post each article once, or no promotion at all, which is a good prerequisite to look for before joining a group.
Much like Twitter, you’ll want to read, comment, and interact to make a connection. This consumes a lot of time and energy that many storytellers don’t have because of their job.
There’s also the option to form your own group or join a group that is more about discussion than promotion. This is the type of group I try to seek out and I enjoy being able to post snippets of work for people to review or just for the encouragement. Either way, you’ll want to use caution before joining any Facebook groups, and consider what they want to accomplish.
While these are not the only two social networks you should consider to help finding storytellers, they are by far the most popular. Instagram is another great option that is growing in both audience and potential, but we’ll be talking about that in a future post.
Online Discussion Boards
Online discussion boards can be a valuable resource for finding storytellers and getting help. Some of the popular discussion boards are Kboards, Goodreads boards, and Reddit. Kboards and Goodreads are directed more towards writers and are pretty easy to use. On the other hand, Reddit is for just about any topic and can be confusing for newbies. All three sites require an email and password to join, but Goodreads makes it easy with Facebook integration if you’re so inclined.
Kboards is aimed towards those looking to publish on the Kindle, but they offer a lot more than that. If you are a writer interested in publishing on Amazon, it is good to have an account and be familiar with the technology before joining, but there is no real prerequisite.
When you join, you’re able to go to various discussion boards and post on topics ranging from technical issues with the service to advice on storytelling. If you have a question of your own, you can easily post a topic of discussion and probably get feedback on whatever it is. This is especially good if you have a question about how to convey a message, develop a character, or create a setting.
Goodreads is mainly for book lovers, so most of the forums and discussions are for discussing books from a reader’s perspective. However, you can join the author side and find plenty of forums on writing and storytelling. Connecting with others is similar to Kboards. You post a question, reply to some topics, and generally interact with others.
The third place to find a storytelling community is Reddit, the enigma of social media. Some people love it and some people hate it because Reddit is not user-friendly, though it’s come a long way.
Until you’ve been using Reddit’s boards and forums for a while, it can be a navigational nightmare because it covers every topic known to man.
I’m not kidding about this, there are discussions for just about anything you could think of.
However, some people enjoy it for this exact reason. You’ll be able to find a group and audience for just about anything you’re looking to discuss or learn about. If you’re already familiar with feeds and Reddit itself, using it to find other storytellers is probably a great choice.
Finding Storytellers In Person
Lastly, the old-fashioned way of finding storytellers still is alive and well. Attending conferences, or joining local groups are both easy ways to meet fellow storytellers.
Almost every large city has groups aimed in some way at storytelling, whether it’s directly for business or more creative, such as writing groups. Even if you don’t think your city has one, they might. My city is relatively small and it has a writers’ group that has been established for years. Check websites like Meet Up to see if there’s anything nearby.
However, it’s important to understand that many of these groups require membership fees and are often times very specific about what they discuss. If this is the case, or if you live in a small town without any groups, you might consider forming one of your own. Before realizing my city already had a group, I started one with friends who also enjoyed writing. Within months we were having meetings and critiquing each other’s work. This helped keep me motivated and inspired, as well as getting feedback on my writing.
Conferences enable you to connect with others who are where you want to be, as well as those just starting on their journey. As a writer, conventions allow me to meet agents and publishers or receive writing advice from fellow authors.
Finding a conference isn’t too hard, as most of them are promoted online or in related magazines. Once you find a conference, the biggest obstacle to attending is cost. Most range from $200–400 for a weekend, not including any travel, food, or lodging you might need. Yet, if you can afford it and are able to attend, you’ll meet other storytellers like you. You’ll most likely meet people who you can connect with afterward through email or phone.
How Will You Find Storytellers?
Some argue that face-to-face interaction is far better than from behind a computer screen. Yet, the truth is that people have different personalities and sometimes connecting through the internet is the best way.
As creative storytellers, we want to feel like we have someone who understands our difficulties and are willing to help us along the way. Whenever we’re feeling stuck or discouraged, we want to be able to call or email a like-minded friend for help. Whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, online boards, or in-person calls, finding storytellers is important.
The good news is once you get started, you’ll find that creative types seem to find each other like moths attracted to a flame.
Now you just have to decide how you will find your community.
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