Writers are solitary people. We sit alone at our desks with only the dog for company, at the coffee shop tapping on a laptop, on a park bench scribbling in a notebook. Writing is a task accomplished alone.
Yet we also write in community in so many ways. The American Christian Fiction Writers conference last week in Nashville was an exercise in writing community. Nearly 600 fiction writers–published and yet-to-be published–gathered to learn about the craft and network in the form of sharing meals and elevators, and laughing like crazy people.
These are people usually slaving away at a computer creating worlds they only inhabit in their minds. But these writers, like all writers, need a community. Many have found that community through ACFW and groups like it, through small writers groups that meet once or twice a month, or through online groups that feed the souls and minds of people far apart.
My writers group recently took retreat at a cabin in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. We did a little writing work each morning, then played in the afternoon, visiting beautiful Whitefish Point (after gorging on fresh whitefish in the town of Paradise) and spending a glorious afternoon swimming/sunning along Whitefish Bay. Our trip home included visiting First Editions Used Bookstore, a hidden gem in the middle of UP forestland. One of us bought a guide to learning Ojibwa, another a Stephen King followup to “On Writing.” Children’s books, classics and juicy novels also ended up in bags to be happily carried home.
The community you build around you as a writer may be as small one like-minded friend or as large as ACFW. It’s probably somewhere in between, like my communities are. First there is the Guild, six writer friends who love each other enough to vacation together in a cabin with one bathroom. There is also the community built around the Breathe Christian Writers Conference, with its yearly conference (Oct. 7-8, 2016) and active blog with many voices of encouragement. As you can see, I occasionally have my chicken friend Helen to help me write. Often she’s accompanied by her sisters Jemima and Sadie.
I encourage you to find the community that fits you best. It will be one of the wisest investments in your writing career you’ll ever make. Tell me about your communities! We’d all love to hear how you find encouragement and understanding in your writing community.