There's something about writers that makes them flock together. This isn't just a new phenomenon either. Think of the Abbey Theater in Dublin or the Algonquin Round Table in New York. Writers just seem to find each other, as if through instinct. And yet, unlike many other arts, writing in itself is a very solitary activity; after all, no amount of community will sit down and write that novel for you. Why then, if the bulk of the work must be done on one's own, is community such an important part of a writer's life?
- It will keep you sane. Belonging to a group of like-minded writers will help keep you centered during those moments of solitary madness (and we all have those from time to time). Whether this community is a critique group or an online network, having other writers around will keep the lonelies from creeping up.
- It will keep you accountable. Writers know when other writers are working and when they're just blowing steam. If you have writer friends who ask you about your work, it will help keep you honest. After all, there's only so many times you can say to another writer "well, uh, I'm still stuck on chapter 3…" before you start losing your street cred and start looking like an @$$.
- It will give you perspective. Sometimes it feels like everyone else in the world is getting published except for you and that's because the whole publishing universe is out to get you and make you feel worse than pond scum. Um… not. Seeing other writers try and fail will help remind you of reality: writing is hard work, but worth every bit of it.
- You'll have someone to commiserate with you. Let's face it, writing is tough and publishing is too. Sometimes we all need a good sulk and having a community will mean you'll have a built-in network of people who can sympathize. These are people who won't give you weird looks when you tell them that you hear your characters' voices in your head or that a minor character just hijacked your entire plot. These are the people who will pat you on the back before they give you that loving shove back to the computer.
- Finally, it means you'll have someone to celebrate with you. And these are people who will understand that finishing a short story is just as much reason for celebration as getting a publishing contract, that it's just as important to celebrate the small successes as the big ones. They know because they've been there too.
In Creative Community we'll be looking at a few of these options--their pros and cons--and how to make the most of these various communities. By the end of it, my hope is that everyone will have the tools to find the right community for them, if they haven't already. And if at the end of September you find that community is not for you, well then maybe you're one of those rare birds that just likes to fly solo.
And that's totally OK.
Today's Question: Do you think writers need community? If so, what do you think is the most important thing writers can get out of connecting with other writers?