The Craftsman’s Guild

I wrote a few months ago about trying to think of ourselves as master craftsmen. You identify your professional skills, and then treat your work as craft — something in which you take pride, and which can be improved upon with focused effort.

Of course, the metaphor can keep going too! In the Middle Ages, craftsmen had their guilds — associations of people with similar skill levels who helped each other with the business side of things. Today, I met with my guild, and it is always a great use of 1.5 of my 168 hours.

A few months ago, my friend Camille Noe Pagan got the idea to start a writers’ strategy group. We would not workshop our writing (often an exercise in frustration for adult groups formed outside a set class or institution). Instead, we would talk through our professional challenges and goals. This meeting, Camille talked about the timing for her next novel, given that her first one, The Art of Forgetting, comes out next June. Siobhan discussed No More Dirty Looks, and her upcoming Today Show appearance. Emma discussed her plan to chart a new career strategy. Jael shared the great news of some buzz for her forthcoming novel The Kitchen Daughter. And I talked through what the chapters for my next book should be.

While we can obviously think through career questions ourselves, a guild can keep us accountable. After all, you want to say you’ve done something by the next meeting! Have you ever formed a professional group? How did you make it work to keep everyone focused and helpful?

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