Welcome to week 3 of my little series on writing community. I’m more than a little happy today because I get to share with you my writing community!! They’re a lovely group, and I’m rather fond of them all—including YOU!
A quick recap:
- Week 1: Writing…All by Myself? I explained how writing should be a solitary profession at times, but requires a firm foundation of community in order to succeed.
- Week 2: Understanding Writing Community We went a few steps further into examining what and who a writing community is and what it does.
And that brings us to this week and my writing community!
I have to start with the best, of course.
To write requires a great amount of focused writing time, commitment to the craft and dedication to a desire. To be a writer often requires diving deeply into one’s self or into the story. Translation: writers often live far away in the worlds they create and may forget to season the chicken or listen when you’re talking to them.
Who sees this firsthand? A writer’s family.
My husband, Tony, and our kids support my dreams and writing goals on a daily basis by understanding that, when I sit down at the computer or curl up with a notebook and pen, I’m working. Perhaps my creative writing isn’t bringing home the bacon at the moment, but it’s work nonetheless. And, they get that.
Tony sacrifices by washing more than his share of dishes and sweeping and even cleaning toilets…all before or after he goes to his own job. Many times when I come out of my writing-induced coma long enough to realize it’s almost time for dinner and the kids are starting to gnaw on the furniture, my husband takes one look at me and simply says, “I’ve got it! Go back to writing.”
My kids are actually proud their mama is a writer. They love telling their friends that I’m writing a book. They know that the morning is theirs because we homeschool. The afternoons and nights—and much of the weekends, too—require my focus for my clients’ work and my writing. One thing that I frequently have to check myself on and monitor, though, is how much time I’m giving to them. A couple months ago we had a no-phone day where I did not check my phone all day and we spent time together doing all sorts of fun stuff. I’m thinking we’re due again for one of those! I also try to say “yes” more often and not spend ALL afternoon at the computer. I try to stick to time blocks for work and writing, so I can take advantage of the time I’ve blocked off for them as well.
In addition to my little inner circle, I have some super important family members who actively support my writing by watching the kids on occasion, subscribing to my blog, reading my posts, keeping up with me on social media and asking me how my writing is going. On top of all that, they believe in me. They believe that I will actually be one of the lucky few who break through and get published. Their confidence in my abilities means the world.
The support of my family is the cornerstone of my writing community, and I could not continue building without them.
Close to the role my family plays, my friends’ support and encouragement drives me every single day. I get sweet texts and genuinely interested questions about my writing progress. They share my work with friends and share things they know I would like with me. When they see memes about writing or books, they think of me. They know I’m goofy and nerdy and they’ve embraced that. My besties know that when we have a girls’ weekend or week, I’m going to have a notebook with me and will be writing at some point. They overlooked my sappy tears when we stood in a bookstore that used to be William Faulkner’s home. And, they just smiled and rolled with the fact that I stayed longer at the beach because I was in the middle of jotting down some inspirations.
My friends get me; and, if they don’t, they love me anyway.
My writing community includes more than just people who are actively involved in my life today. I have been blessed with so many amazing influences throughout the years—teachers, fellow readers, fellow writers. I had amazing english and literature teachers and professors my entire life—my mom filled that role for 8 of those years. They pushed me, encouraged me and demanded the best from me.
Grandpa was one of the most influential people in my life when it came to reading and writing. My grandparents most often gave books as gifts. I cherish the book that he wrote about his own life and published for his family. And, I had many beautiful conversations with him about writing and reading. I only wish I could have somehow recorded them so I could listen to them again today. I miss him every day.
Other influences in my writing community include every author whose words I’ve ever read and the writers whose blogs I’ve followed over the years. They’ve given me a priceless education for sure.
YOU are part of my writing community!! I may not have a book to share yet, but I have the posts on this blog. I also have all the amazing followers who read my Facebook posts, Tweets and Goodreads reviews, many of whom take the time to interact with me—something I LOVE and appreciate so much. And, over the years, I’ve had delightful interactions with readers who’ve read my articles in both newspapers and magazines, as well as columns in newspapers. Finally, my clients who I write for make up another part of this group. Their continued trust and support of my business and my other writing helps me continue.
As of right now I don’t have a local writing group that I meet with face to face. My area has quite a few options for that, but I just don’t have the flexibility to go and meet with them on a regular basis. I do, however, have one really amazing friend I’ve known since college who is also a writer. She’s my critique partner, sounding board, encourager of taking chances and going for it and fellow QWERTY—I made our cheesy name public, Mea!! Mea Smith gets random and crazy texts, emails and Twitter DMs from me at all hours of the day and night; and she’s okay with that! She shares her writing and ideas with me; I share mine with her. We feed off each other’s excitement and pull each other out of our down times (and freak out sessions). She tells me when I’m crazy and when I may be onto something. She’s my book fest partner in crime; the Lewis to my Tolkien. And, she pretty much rocks!
Thanks to the world wide web, I have “met” some of the most incredible writers from all over the world—from California to Rhode Island to Scotland to Australia. I learn from them and receive encouragement from them. I love to rejoice with their successes and share their good news and words. They inspire me and show me the way. I soak it all up and love every interaction I have with writers everywhere!
And, finally, I mentioned last week about how many online writing communities there are and how helpful they can be. I’m not one to join a ton of groups, and I don’t like to join in when I can’t engage with and give back to a group. So, while I’m a member of a few writing groups on Facebook, I’ve chosen two with whom I actively participate.
The Motivated Writer comes to us from the amazingly awesome and super encouraging Jamie Raintree (whose debut novel Perfectly Undone just hit shelves!). Jamie is a master at goal-setting and organization—stay tuned for a post (with a GIVEAWAY) in a few weeks about her incredible Writing and Revision Tracker. This group gives writers an opportunity to share goals every Monday and goal wins (or changes) every Friday. You get support and encouragement from a community of writers who really GET IT.
I like the accountability of knowing I told someone what I planned to accomplish that week. I may have someone holding me to the deadlines for my work, but my creative writing doesn’t have that. And, as you know, I NEED deadlines! Recently, Jamie branched out with The Motivated Writer on Twitter! So, if you’re a fan of squeezing goals into
140 280 characters or if you just want another way to share your goals and wins with a supportive community, check it out and remember to #tmwriter!
Up next is Writer Moms Inc. This group soothes my Mama heart. These ladies are fellow moms in varying stages of raising little people, but they also choose to make the time to pursue their own writing passions and model that commitment for the little juice box squeezers and confused tweens and questioning soon-to-be adults watching them.
The lovely and talented Autumn Lindsay started this group and co-hosts weekly #WM_chat Twitter chats on Monday nights with the super sweet encourager, Everly Reed! These ladies write despite the busyness that motherhood brings, and they facilitate opportunities for other writing moms to share and learn from one another as we encourage each other on this unique journey. This group grows every day, and it is full of amazing Wonder Women!
This is where I met Abby Mathews and Melanie Parish with the Mom Writes Podcast—look out for a fun interview blog post coming with them! And, this is where I introduced my long-time friend Amanda Smithers—who I still have never met in person; we really need to correct that!—to the wide world of writers. We didn’t scare her away; instead, she’s re-starting her own book-writing journey! I could not be more proud! I am loving learning from her and watching her grow as she gains confidence and discovers her drive to make her goals reality.
The best part about this final group? Next week, I’m sharing with you an interview with Autumn as I introduce you guys to her, and we chat a bit more about Writer Moms Inc.! I CANNOT wait to get to know her better!
Your writing community will look different than mine; and that’s awesome! I’d love to hear about some of the people or groups who mean the most in your writing world. Also, please take a minute to subscribe to my weekly blog newsletter.