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The Truth about Writers and Community

We all have this vision of what being a writer looks like. The writer goes off somewhere alone, has brilliant ideas, pours them out onto the page, shapes them and then presents them to the world. The writer is a creative genius! The world is amazed!

If you’ve ever written anything EVER you know that this idea of a writer has nothing to do with what being a writer is actually like. We so rarely go off and write entire, fully-formed, brilliant pieces of writing (I know I never have). There’s a lot more staring off into space, struggling to form ideas, self-loathing, ripping up and deleting of previous work, and procrastination in the real writing world. And let’s not talk about the editing, editing, and more editing….

But you know what’s really wrong with that picture? Writing doesn’t happen in a vacuum. No one writes alone and uninfluenced. Writers are affected by and have an effect on the world around them.

Writing is an extension of life

“Everything that happens to me happens to my writing too.”

What I’m writing about usually has a lot to do with what I’m thinking about, what I’m reading, and the things I’m learning. My writing is a private, personal thing that’s all about me, but my writing is also about the people I’m spending time with, my community, and what’s happening in the world around me. All those things affect me, so they affect my writing too. I think about the things I’m processing by writing about them. I write notes to myself, journal entries, blog posts, stories, letters and emails, social media posts. Everything that happens to me happens to my writing too.

Writing is a communal activity

There’s another side to it too. People read my writing. Which means that what I write has an effect on the world around me. I can choose to share the things I’m learning. I can express my feelings and ideas about what’s happening to me or others. I can ask questions. I can explore what ifs. I can allow others to explore ideas and perspectives through the stories I tell. And we’re just talking about the finished product. What if we recognize and embrace the idea that the writing process itself is communal? What if we begin to share our writing with other people while it’s forming? What if we don’t hide in a hole and pretend that our writing only comes from us and that it has nothing to do with the world it’s being created in? Think of how much more dynamic and powerful our writing could be!

Some things to think about:

Some of us have a little more time to think than usual right now. I’m choosing to spend that time thinking about my writing and my community. I can’t spend physical time with people right now but that doesn’t mean my writing can’t. I’ve asked myself these questions and I encourage you to do the same.

  • What do I want to accomplish with my writing? (This might change from piece to piece of course)
  • How can I do more for my community with my writing?
  • What can I do to share more of my writing and creating process with other people?
  • How can I embrace and use the impact of other people on my writing rather than deny it?

I’d love to hear your responses to some of these questions. Talk to me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or in the comments below.

I’m writing with you,

-Laurie, Associate Editor

Header Image Clay Banks


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The Amulet by Norma Sluman and Marnie Sluman Somers

 

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