They say it takes a village to raise a child. Likewise, it takes a community to develop a writer. We may think of the solitary writer, sequestered in a room with the door closed, scratching away on the page. Perhaps many of us begin that way.
But as with most human undertakings, writers are not exempt from the need for interaction with others. Not just for affirmation but also for motivation, stimulation, information and collaboration. That’s why organizations such as InScribe exist—because together we can do more and in the company of others we can do better.
As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17
In my naïve self-confidence, I thought I was a decent writer. Then I went to a writers’ conference at which one could submit a piece for “blue pencil review.” I have to admit I was a bit surprised by how many blue pencil marks suggested room for improvement on my piece. A touch of humility gave me a new openness to learn more about the craft of writing.
I wrote my first book – a Bible study – with the collaboration and support of a colleague. Together we planned the format and outline. I could run by her my ideas, inspired moments and uncertainties. That collaboration enriched my writing.
The second writers’ conference I attended included a breakout option called “Freefall.” Curious, I signed up and discovered a whole new kind of fun. The leader gave us an open-ended phrase, then set a timer for 2 minutes in which we were to carry on writing the story. My imagination was stimulated. Not only that, I was fascinated by the varied directions in which participants had gone with their word-crafting.
Some time later, a friend mentioned that she was thinking of starting a writing group. “I’m in!” was my immediate response. Now every month we gather on Zoom and share the stories we have written based on a given prompt. We take turns choosing the prompt. Our stated purpose is not to critique but to affirm and encourage one another. We share our stories, pieces of our lives and unique ways of approaching the same subject. Motivation to write is strong when you have a group interested in hearing what you have prepared.
I live on my own and even though my dog is a good listener, he is not great at feedback. I need someone to be a sounding board in the creative process. I envy writers who have a spouse to listen to their ruminations and processing of ideas as they go along.
At some point on the path to publication we will need beta readers (another thing I learned about from other writers), editors, publishers and printers. But even before that, for the art and process of writing itself we need a community. Whether you find yourself a writing buddy, join a writing group, sign up for a workshop or writing course, or attend a conference, your craft will be enriched by sharing the journey with a community of like-minded pilgrims.
Barbara Fuller, a native of Nova Scotia, has been writing since she was a teenager. Now living in BC, she is currently working on her fifth book in the Inlight Bible Studies series. Barb enjoys her six grand-darlings, music, books, languages, traveling, and walking on beaches, preferably with her dog Toby. Find her books and her blog at Barbara Fuller.