Recently, I attended a local group in my community for writers. I had no idea what or who to expect, and felt apprehensive as I walked into the little room off the library. I was warmly welcomed and introduced to the ten or so other writers who were there; who represented a variety of genres, experience levels, backgrounds and success. It was a group of mixed personalities and tastes, but who had a common interest and purpose: writing.
After a quick recap of a recent trip to a self publishing house that a couple of the group had been to, each of the writers took it in turn to share an excerpt of recent work (apart from the odd “I’ve been too busy this week” or “I’ve nothing to share”, or mine: “I’ll just watch this time, thanks”). The group responded to the different pieces with laughs in the right places, thoughtful comments and encouragement, as well as discussions on how work could be improved or any inconsistencies noticed.
More than anything, I valued the reminder of how important it is to have a supportive community around you. If you want to be a writer, surround yourself with other writers. Not only will you gain new friends, but you’ll have people who understand you (not everyone can relate to needing to turn the light on at 3am because you’ve awoken from a nightmare that would make a brilliant book!) and a library of people who can offer help, encouragement, and accountability.
I suggested to a friend recently about joining a writers group, and she commented that she was concerned about idea-stealing, and this is a valid point. Sharing with other writers does involve a certain amount of trust, vulnerability and respect. You’re all in the same boat here, and you’ll only ever share what you feel comfortable in sharing. What I’ve found in both formal and informal meetings with other writers is that 99% of the time, people will celebrate your ideas and help you to develop them, but have their own idea or project that they’re working on and they’re not interested in taking on yours.
If you’re not sure about going along to an existing group, why not start your own? You’d be surprised at who in your world would be interested in joining a group focussed around writing. Now I can almost hear you yelling at me, “But I can’t do that!”, “What do I have to offer?”, “I’m only just beginning to write!” and so on. The point here isn’t that you have to be any kind of expert (or I wouldn’t be sat here right now writing this blog….) but more that you can facilitate something and bring other like minded or similarly inspired people together to create a community around a cause. Promise me you’ll think about it?!
PS. Just to demonstrate the power of others, this blog was written because of another person. I have never met Jade. Apart from a few mutual friends and interests, I know little about her. Yet we share a connection, a love for words. Earlier this week, Jade commented on my blog to say that she’d missed my posts. It’s true, I haven’t blogged in over a month. Very slack of me! But, if I’m brutally honest, I didn’t care too much, mainly because I didn’t think anyone else would notice or care. It took Jade’s encouraging comment to remind me. So, this blog is for Jade, and here’s to the power of others!