Are you sitting alone in a room writing? In one of my jobs writing press releases for a corporation I sat in a room alone trying to make data alluring to the general public. Writing poems and short stories alone in a room all day long isn't too different from that job. What kind of support do you have? I'm talking about skill support and positive comments that keep you going as a writer. Meaningful critiques can propel you forward to revising, editing, and shaping a piece for your audience.
For too many years I was writing for a small audience. I wanted to expand as a writer and for a larger audience. I had seen an ad in the ChicagoTribune in their Book Section, a part of the newspaper they once had dedicated to listings of lectures, writer debut novel readings, book reviews, and ads for events and workshops. An ad of the Off-Campus Writers Workshop in Winnetka, Illinois, had an interesting workshop on children's book writing. After attending that workshop I became a member as I found the people who attended were curious and engaging. It's through the following organizations below, the publications for writers, and the guides on the marketplace that I launched myself as a writer. You can find your path when searching for support.
Writers Organizations: Through that first organization I found others full of bright writers who were knowledgeable. See below for links to their websites.
1) Illinois State Poetry Society -- a fine critique writing group of poets who are knowledgeable and supportive. Various chapters serve different parts of Illinois. There's a poetry contest and at least one reading during the year for members. Membership with this group gives you automatic membership with the National Federation of State Poetry Societies that holds a national convention, and the newsletter informs members of state contests.
2) Arbor Hill Group -- a smaller, more informal supportive critique writing group that meets once a month in the western suburbs of Chicago.
3) Poets & Patrons -- a critique writers group that hosts workshops that has given me another perspective on poetry. They have contests and readings throughout the year. Each of these organizations has reasonable fees for joining.
Illinois State Poetry Society
National Federation of State Poetry Societies
Poets & Patrons
Off Campus Writers Workshop
Poets & Writers -- this magazine includes articles on the marketplace, individual writers as well as writing contests and publishing
Source Materials: Writers Digestprints various guides for writers that will tell you updated information about publications, contests, and the marketplace.
I use the Poets Market guide, but there's a general one for writers, one for literary agents, and one for children's book writers. Website: https://writersmarket.com/