Tag Archives: community

Seven Reasons Why Writers Need Each Other

Last weekend I was at a writers retreat. What were we retreating from?

I think in one way or another we all chose to be there to enjoy a reprieve from the status quo. We were retreating from normalcy.

For most writers most of the time, writing is a solitary activity. We toil in isolation, often foregoing social interaction so that we may create: linking letters to produce words to string together to form sentences to make paragraphs that result in chapters which emerge as books. We do this by ourselves.

Working alone is efficient. Writing without human distraction is effective, the practical way to proceed – at least for our art but not so much for our person. Personally we need people from time to time. Being with other writers is critical.

Connection: Non-writers don’t understand why we write. Our drive to produce remains a mystery to them. They may tolerate and accommodate our ways, but comprehending why we do what we do, evades them. Other writers get this.

Commiserate: Writing can be hard. Sometimes the words don’t flow or our output doesn’t work. Other times the path to publication is blocked. And when produced, sometimes the audience doesn’t respond as we wish. Other writers understand this, offering comfort or advice.

Consulting: Sometimes writers become stuck. We don’t know how to fix a troubled passage, put our story arc back on track, or correct words that refuse to cooperate. Sometimes we need a second set of eyes, a fresh perspective, or input from someone who’s preceded us on that path. Other writers are often the best equipped to help.

Celebrate: Who better understands our triumphs than other writers? When we sell a story, publish a poem, find an agent, sign a book deal, or hold our product in our hands, it’s other writers who cheer the loudest. We all need applause from time to time.

Cooperate: As writers we need to promote our work; we must market our product. We despise condescending into the dark side of art, but we need to reach our audience and sell our books. Working with other writers, often in an informal cooperative, is an ideal way to make this easier and more effective.

Comfortable: We don’t need to explain ourselves to other writers. They offer acceptance and a safe place to be ourselves.

Community: We find all these things when we connect with other writers. Our community might be a critique group, a seminar, a conference, a Facebook page or Google+ group, a blog, a class, a retreat, or maybe all of these.

Though not every community is positive and supportive, we keep the ones that are and jettison the rest. We do this for our writing and for our well-being.

What does your writing community look like?

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

National Novel Writing Month

November is National Novel Writing Month, “NaNoWriMo” for short.

The idea is to write with abandon throughout the month, completing the first draft of a novel by November 30.

Writers who embark on this annual quest, do so within a community of other sojourners who encourage and support one another to keep moving forward. (In addition to the above link, which is the place to start, follow NaNoWriMo on Twitter or check out hashtag #NaNoWriMo. Plus there’s many more resources and communities that support NaNoWriMo.)

If you’re participating, I wish you well and hope you make your goal.

If you never knew about NaNoWriMo and wish I’d provided more advance warning, that’s exactly what I’m doing — you now have 12 months to think about this and prepare to take part next year.

Write on!

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

Do You Write in a Spiritual Community?

As a writer, I write alone; it’s a solitary activity. So it’s good for me to periodically emerge from my self-imposed cocoon and spend time with other people — and other writers are the people who understand me best, those with who I am most comfortable to be around.

I just returned from a Christian Writers conference. It was a great time, full of information, encouragement, and rejuvenation. While writing was the focus, God was the foundation; it was a spiritual time.

As my buddy, Gerald the Writer,” and I headed home, we processed out loud what we had experienced. It was community, a spiritual community. The only problem is that it only occurs once a year.

However, the writing critique group we started happens every month. It’s also a spiritual community. We’re with kindred spirits and God is in our midst.

Our group’s focus is writing and helping each other hone our craft. Sometimes what we write is about God and other times, not, but regardless, it is all done for God.

Though we may sometimes pray, it’s not an obligation to do so according to schedule. Though we may sometimes talk about the Bible, it’s not a preplanned activity. And if the subject of theology comes up, we quickly push it aside — it is not our goal to critique that.

Those who advocate a formula for spiritual community would dismiss us as missing out because we break all their rules.

But for us it is our spiritual community and our most significant one.

Are you part of a spiritual community? What does it look like?

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

What I’m Looking For in a Critique Group

Writing is a solitary effort, a task pursued in private. Yet the result is public.

Bridging that gap, between originator and audience, sits the critique group. A properly functioning assemblage will help members distinguish between their junk and their jewels, serving to keep the drivel under wraps, while propelling the exceptional to greater heights.

While I comprehend the immense value of being in a writing community, alas, I am not. Although some groups function well in cyberspace, my desire is for a gathering that meets face-to-face. Perhaps because most of my day job is done at a distance, I don’t want yet another task that must be accomplished in absentia. My desire for presence dictates a group of local writers, the existence of whom I am yet to identify.

Here’s what I wish my critique group to be:

  • We all need to be active writers; no wanna-be, gonna-do wordsmiths need apply.
  • We need to be at a comparable level, though those more advanced in the craft will be a welcome bonus.
  • We will meet on a regular basis, monthly seems ideal.
  • Each will submit a sample of his or her work in advance.
  • Each will review all submissions, ready to provide feedback at the meeting.
  • Honesty is the expectation, but presented tactfully. Our mantra will be to speak the truth in love.
  • False praise will be prohibited, while ruthless disparagement will be verboten.
  • The intent is to help each member improve their work, but not do it for them.

Is this a realistic expectation or an idealism never to be realized? Look for future updates here. Until then, write well.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!