It's always a struggle to find enough time to write, whether you're a full-time writer or you're try to squeeze writing sessions around a job or a career, and between kids' soccer games, grocery shopping, TV binging, school, dating, yoga, laundry, friendship maintenance, family relations, social media, flossing, gardening, motorcycle maintenance, animal husbandry and on and on. All of these functions of life, as inescapable and important as some of them may be, are still, to a writer, excuses to procrastinate.
So, you would think that adding to that list, by volunteering time and energy to the writing community, would tax your daily word count even further.
While that may be true, I’ve found the unexpected collateral benefits to be well worth the pain.
I'm currently in the middle of my second term as President of the Mystery Writers of America SoCal chapter (which mysteriously includes Hawaii, Arizona, and most of Nevada). I was VP before that and a board member for several years before that. I've been on the board of Sisters in Crime for longer than I can remember.
During all that time, I've met, read, and talked writing with authors from all over the world, making me reevaluate my own work from new perspectives, re-energizing my enthusiasm for various projects that were wallowing in the dreaded second act, and initiating new projects. Granted, some of this sort of thing can be accomplished in the bar of a good crime writers conference (none of which is finer than the upcoming California Crime Writers Conference in June 2017), but your social networking opportunities are definitely broader when you volunteer. The reason for this is that when you go from mingling in a crowd to working on a project side-by-side, acquaintances become friends, and as relationships deepen, so do the mutual benefits.
And what does all this camaraderie get you? I have writer friends I can call on in a creative crisis, others I can visit when I travel, and still others I can bounce ideas off. Friends I've made on the inside of writers' organizations have led me to my long-standing critique group, best-selling authors blurbing my books, introductions to agents and editors, inside views into how the business of writing works, and on a minuscule level, a voice in organizational policies that affect us all.
Of all the activities that take me away from my writing, my volunteer work for organizations like MWA and SinC has been, without question, the most inspirational and educational (and fun). But the biggest bonus, and the most surprising, was the boost to my writing. So don't worry about finding the time, just raise your hand. What you may lose in quantity, you'll more than make up for in quality.