If you're a freelancer, then you're probably in need of a professional forum; writer-folk who work from home often need virtual places to congregate with others of a similar vein.
Finding a Professional Forum - Writer-Style
Why would freelance writers need to hang out with other writers? Isn't the whole point of freelancing the fact that you can work from home, away from the distractions of office environments? This may be true, but human beings are social creatures and need to interact.
When you're in an office, you're surrounded by people and conversations that many folks take for granted. Those late morning coffee runs and watercooler chit-chat sessions are surprisingly important to maintaining some level of sanity. Working from home is nice, but it's important to have some sort of social contact to keep you active and mentally stimulated.
Advice and Problem Solving
Another reason you might want to find a professional forum: writers often have unique problems that are best solved by other writers. In an office you can poke your cube-mate and ask a question, but at home you're left to your own devices. Writer forums can be a great source of information, advice and networking opportunities. This is especially important for new writers.
Which Forums Should You Join?
Since the advent of the Internet, countless forums have popped up that cater to the specific needs of writers. Of the thousands of options, which should you join? Below are a handful of tried and true forums that are worth a look-see.
If you're looking for a free forum where many freelance writers hang out, check out the Absolute Write Water Cooler. Absolute Write is available 24-7 and hosts a great deal of successful writers, many of whom are freelancing, just like you. There are several forum areas that may be of interest, including:
- A newbie forum where new writers can ask questions
- Forums for grammar, technical and publishing advice
- Specialized forums for those writing novels, short fiction, screenplays and more
Media Bistro is a freelance writer's friend for many reasons. Besides their handy "How to Pitch" section and countless valuable articles, there's the Media Bistro forum. While there is a forum for paid AvantGuild members only, you can also post in the free forums without paying for membership. Whether or not you're interested subscribing to their service, Media Bistro is a great hangout for freelancers looking for their social and informational fix.
If you're looking for the place where all of your favorite writers hang out, check out Freelance Success. Known as FLX for short, this forum houses only serious writers who take their craft very seriously. How do you know it's a serious hangout? Well, you have to pay $100 a year to join. While this may seem steep at first, the value of this forum speaks for itself once you've experienced first-hand how supportive FLX can be. Whether you're a seasoned writer or just starting out, the $100 is an investment in your career (and a tax write-off, to boot).
One thing that you should be aware of is that in a professional forum for writers - especially those you're invested in socially - can be a huge black hole when it comes to time and motivation. Just like any other social media outlet, forums can eat hours of the day without your realizing it. If you begin to make friends on these forums, it becomes even easier to lose track of time, and before you know it, it's 5 p.m. and your workday is over.
Just like Facebook, Twitter and other Internet time-sucks, it's important to keep your forum usage to manageable level when you're working. Since you're freelancing, you don't really have a boss looking over your shoulder, making sure you're staying on task - that responsibility falls on you.
One way to avoid getting sucked into a forum is to keep a timer by your desk. Allot yourself a set amount of time to socialize - say 10 minutes - and then set your timer to go off when you've hit your time limit. A big part of keeping motivated while working at home is sheer willpower. Don't let the Internet take up all of your time if you want to keep paying the bills!