There’s just something magical that happens when a group of writers spend time together. Whether it’s at a castle (like I am right now, lucky me!) or a local meeting or a larger conference, fill a room with creative people and suddenly two plus two equals five or more. Why? Because we are better together.
For one, there’s freedom when we rub shoulders with others who speak our language. No longer do we have to explain away the fact that we talk to fictional people…and they talk back. And suddenly it’s okay to emerge from the story world we’re building only to have forgotten what season (or decade) the real world is operating in. When we mention a POV issue, pitches, GMC, or even marketing, those within earshot don’t picture automobiles, baseball players, or grocery carts.
When I’m with people who *get* me, I’m free to be completely me. But that’s not all that happens when writers gather.
Ideas get shared…then strengthened. Brainstorming together unsnarls the most stubborn plot issue and unpacks layers of character development we’d never dreamed to explore. On the other hand, it’s also invaluable to learn that an idea won’t fly long before I invest countless hours hunched over a keyboard creating the project…then trying to fix it.
In addition to ideas and input about the craft of writing, there’s power in learning other business skills from those with more experience in marketing and book launches. What has worked (or flopped) for others in the past helps me wisely direct my resources in the future.
And don’t even get me started on networking. People meet people who already know people. Have a problem? Need to make a connection? Someone you know already knows someone who can help. Ask around at a conference and many of the published authors got where they are today because of someone they met.
Don’t forget about the pure friendship factor either. We all need people in our lives to hold us accountable as we pursue our goals. The kind of people who will naggingly ask how much writing we’ve gotten done over the past month. Who will listen to us vent about poor contest scores or a harsh review or a difficult editorial letter…then pick us up, dust us off, and give us a kick in the pants to get us moving down the road again. All while continuing to cheer us on with a “Don’t ever give up” mantra. Or even a direct challenge to raise the bar and try something new instead of settling for the status quo.
In addition to teaching young writers about storytelling and getting a bit of my own writing done in the gaps between sessions, one unexpected joy of being a part of The Great Write team has been watching a few of these middle schoolers discover the magic of community for themselves.
Just like C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien had each other and the rest of The Inklings to encourage their writing careers, I have a feeling that the seeds of a similar community are beginning to grow into something special here too.
All because we truly are better together.
What about you? Do you have a group of people who understand, support, and encourage your dreams? If you don’t, could you start a community? Where would you begin to find them?