The Power of Community

When I first came back to writing a few years ago, I wrote by myself for my own enjoyment. Writing can be a very solitary art, and it certainly was for me back then. Ann and I joined forces shortly thereafter, and, for a while, it was just the two of us. But all that changed when a girlfriend, Kate, invited us to join a bunch of writers on LiveJournal, and my first experience with a writing community began.

Through LiveJournal, I met a large group of writers at various stages of their careers. Many wrote just for fun and were happy to keep it that way. But there was a group of us that strove to learn more about our craft and eventually focused on professional publication. Of that group, several are now agented writers, and several more are well on their way to reaching that goal. But more than what we accomplished individually, it was what we accomplished as a group that was important. We shared our writing freely and reviewed others’ material on a regular basis. We worked hard to encourage fellow writers in their writing habits, in finding their style, and improving their skills.

As social media platforms have increased in prevalence and size, the idea of community has expanded as well. Recently, Kristen Lamb started the #MyWANA community on Twitter, based on her book We Are Not Alone  ― The Writers Guide to Social Media (she also posts every Wednesday on this topic on her Warrior Writers blog). The #MyWANA community is a place where writers can share blogging experiences, tips on platform building, links they found helpful, and promote each other to the community as a whole. It’s an incredibly positive atmosphere, as can be seen in the number of writers who follow and return time and time again to contribute to the group.

Recently, a handful of Nicole’s clients found each other on Twitter and we’ve banded together as a small group to encourage each other, provide a shoulder to lean on when frustrated or discouraged, to share tips, trade ideas and even to give each other some healthy writing competition. We’ve had a few mornings when an e-mail has gone out to the group from one of us setting their word count goal for that day and others have chimed in to match it or with their own personal goals. It gives us something to be accountable for at the end of the day, and, if we don’t succeed, it gives us a cheering section to try again next time. Yesterday, in a great bit of teamwork, a tagline was bandied about until it was tweaked to perfection, with everyone available at the time tossing out ideas for discussion. And recently, one of our ranks, Amanda Carlson, announced her very first deal, a three book contract with Orbit. We were thrilled for her and immediately did what we could to spread the news through our respective social networks. This kind of community simply can’t be beat ― there’s no jealousy or negativity, just support and encouragement. We’re fairly new as a group, but I see a great potential for parallel growth and friendship within this group of women. I’m very thankful to have found them.

The power of community isn’t shared only in writing groups. It can be in cancer survivor networks like Livestrong, through hobby clubs, in on-line forums to discuss parenting, or within homeschooling support groups. Ann has found community in her work rescuing abandoned and abused pit bulls, and working with non-profit organizations such as Love-A-Bull and StubbyDog to improve the public image of pit bulls. It’s the connections within the group that are important, and the links between its members give strength to all.

How have you experienced the power of community in your life?

Photo credit: toffeehoff