Sunday, June 7, 2015

The Importance of Community

I was recently introduced to an article in the May 2015 issue of The Atlantic entitled "How to Graduate from Starbucks." This article was very interesting as it described the partnership between Starbucks and Arizona State University for Starbucks' employees to earn college degrees. It discussed all the different techniques these two businesses are using to encourage success. But the one thing that seemed to set this program apart from other programs was proactive mentoring. Students found the support, information, and encouragement they needed to continue their college educations.

So what does this have to do with writing? Actually, it has a lot to do with life. Try to think of one area of your life where you have been successful that you accomplished completely on your own. There was no support from parents, friends, spouse, siblings, teachers, no one except yourself. Hard to think of? Perhaps impossible?

Writing is no different. In many aspects, writing is a solitary venture. After all no one else can sit at the computer or paper and jot down the words you intend to express. It's something you have to do on your own with your own time and effort. But that doesn't mean you have to be alone.

In my own experience, I've found that my writing communities are crucial to my success. I have a critique group, a local writing organization, and various conferences that I all participate in. Any or all of these writing communities help me grow and develop as a writer. My husband is very supportive, but he's not a writer, so he doesn't "get it." Only other writers understand the effort, excitement, drudgery, hard work, passion, and bits of soul that go into your writing.

It's other writers who keep me writing. They give me the courage to keep trying, even when it's hard. They help me expand and express my ideas. And they give me a loose accountability that keeps me writing. My writing communities want to see my success, and that positive peer pressure keeps me striving for that success whatever my actual circumstances, capabilities, and outcomes.

You need other writers.

You need them to encourage you. You need them to help you. You need them to hold you accountable. You need them to celebrate with you. You need them to bounce ideas off of. You need them to teach you. You need them for camaraderie.

You need a community of writers if you intend to be successful.