Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Why Join a Writing Community?

Mari L Barnes
The solitary act of writing is perfect for the introvert. Being able to name our preoccupation provides comfort to family and friends who don’t really understand why we choose to spend hours alone: we’re creating, we’re working. Please go away, we’re WRITING!
Let’s face it, we’re weirdoes. Who else is so perfectly contented in solitude, hunched over a keyboard or a notebook, staring into space one moment and furiously writing the next? Even when things aren’t going well—that character has ruined the plot or the plot has just written itself off a cliff—we can still claim the title of writer and know that we belong to the Holy Order of Wordsmith. We are part of an immense and magical group, even if we never engage with another kindred spirit.
So why join a writing community?
The reasons are many and varied. Most cited is the opportunity to connect with other writers. We are social creatures, although one evening in society may last some of us for several months. It’s reassuring to meet others like ourselves, to celebrate triumphs and shore up our faith in possibilities. We commiserate—please share your rejection letters or stories of how your family and friends just don’t get it.
Writing communities, either in person or online, validate us. They welcome us. They provide encouragement and education. I’ve never been in the presence of other writers and not come away with some piece of information that improved my writing or sent me down a path worth exploring. I prefer the term “connecting” to that of “networking.” I don’t want to think of my interactions with others as “working,” but “connecting” has more of the give and take that describe a writing community.
Personally, I get a charge from the energy and enthusiasm of other writers. I’m not great at “working the room,” but interactions with individual writers power me up and inspire me to keep going when I lose sight of why I write in the first place. It also gives me an opportunity to shine my light and illumine the path for someone else.
Have you been alone with your words? You will find critique partners or groups in a writing community when you are ready to share your work. Writing communities have personalities and focuses that are as diverse as the writers themselves. Take time to sample the organizations in your area and online to find the best fit.
Mari L Barnes writes for children under the pen name of Mari Lumpkin and for adults as ML Barnes. Her books Parting River Jordan and Crossing River Jordan are proof that church can be funny. Mari’s company, Flying Turtle Publishing, specializes in books that families can share.
She is a member of the Highland Writers Group as well as being a member and serving on the board of the Indiana Writers Consortium. Mari is creating a workbook, Life Authors: It’s Your Story, to help people jumpstart writing their life stories. More information is coming soon to 

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