If you’ve been watching my book reviews lately, you’ll have noticed that I’ve been binge reading about writing and creativity. I still have more reviews on this to come! One of the common threads I’ve noticed is the idea of writing community. Jeff Goins speaks to it in You Are a Writer and in Real Artists Don’t Starve. Elizabeth Gilbert speaks to it in Big Magic. Ann Lamott also mentions the importance of having a group of writers in Bird by Bird. All of these books are MUST READs for writers!
I started to wonder if I’m missing something valuable by ignoring the idea of a writing community.
I wondered if there might be something important I’ve been missing (or ignoring). I’ve always considered myself something of an outsider, an introvert, a loner of sorts. The mere fact that I run away to our little place in the woods every other week to write kind of says it all! In fact, I was pretty certain that I’m not really into people. I’ve even written a good number of posts on one of my blogs just by observing humans/humanity … from a distance. It’s like I have to get away from people to process what I see in the world.
Surely I must always have had some inkling about the value of community. I’ve built a number of directory sites to connect people. Heck, I’ve even built Writing on Air with the vision of creating a community for writers and a portal for readers to find them. Obviously I know that community is important BUT I don’t think I ever really thought about it in relation to my writing. So, I’ve decided to play around with this a little bit – strictly as a science experiment of course – and I’m completely stunned by what’s happening.
Where I looked for writing community:
- I reached out to a local swap group to see if there’s any interest in an in-person creative writing group.
- Asked a fellow author/friend of mine what she thought of the idea of being witnesses for each others’ creations.
- Joined 3 writing groups on Facebook and actually started participating in them. I also got more active in a fourth group that I had been lurking in.
What happened when I became a part of the writing community:
- I discovered that there are more creative people living close by than I imagined. After posting on that local group I had a few people respond and several more with hints on who else to speak with! All of the books I mentioned above spoke to putting yourself geographically where other writers (or creatives) tend to congregate. Lo and behold, I had done that without being aware of it! All I had to do was ask!
- Not only did my friend joyfully agree to being witnesses for each other (she loved that term), she’s mentioned a couple of her friends that would also like in on the fun. The two of us have been meeting online weekly for a couple months now and the group will being soon. All I had to do was ask!
- I’ve been introduced to some great tools and resources for my writing and promoting it.
- And here is the strangest, most miraculous part … with the Facebook groups … I’m finding that I’m writing much more consistently because the groups are constantly sharing what they’ve accomplished. They’re receiving feedback and shares from other members, and their challenges are being met with compassion and support. It turns out that I want to share in these groups too! So I have to write consistently to be able to do that. The really funny thing is that I’ve noticed that there is some overlap in members within the groups … so I’ve noticed myself writing even more so I can contribute unique and appropriate stuff. Apparently lurking in a community isn’t enough; participation and contribution to the whole is where the magic happens.
Does a writing community make a difference?
HECK YA it does! Whether it’s a community of two or more, there is something wonderfully generative in a creative community. It’s like compound interest in your bank account … you put a little creativity in the community bank and it grows and grows and grows together! I’ve watched collaborations happen, twisted storylines get straightened, and I’ve witnessed virtual strangers hold each other up through the rough patches.
Here are a few of my favorite Facebook writing groups:
Writing on Air (From the Radio Show – Obviously!)
My 500 Words (with Jeff Goins – I’m a huge fan!)
Create if Writing (with Kirsten Oliphant – check out her podcast too!)
Unstoppable Writers (by Deanne Michelle Welsh)
Bulletproof Writers (I’ve recently discovered Blake Powell)
P.S. The book links above are affiliate links. If you purchase a book through the provided link I will receive compensation at no additional cost to you.