In my last post about staying motivated, I wrote about how helpful keeping a routine is to the process of writing. This time, I want to talk about community. Sometimes writing feels like such a solitary act, and it could be discouraging when it feels like we’re alone in our commitment to our art. The thing is, this thing we do called writing, it doesn’t have to be so solitary.
I’ve always found interaction with other writers to be essential for me. It pressures me to keep deadlines, keeps me in conversation about craft, reminds me others are doing this too, and gives me a competitive push. This summer, a writer friend and I e-mail each other at least 500 words every day. We’re not reading each other’s daily words, just sending it to each other so that we have a deadline and are forced to stick to it. On Mondays, if we do want feedback, we send each other the piece we want feedback on, along with the day’s new 500 words.
If you don’t have writer friends, but want some, be proactive, reach out. You might find a pen-pal writer by reaching out to a writer you admire (though, don’t push it – sometimes this results in a lifelong friendship or in collaboration, sometimes it results in a Facebook friend, or a small note of thanks, or no reply at all). Another thing to remember is that there are writing communities all around us. Sometimes you can find groups of writers to meet up with on Craigslist or MeetUp or similar websites. You can try making connections at local readings put on by a bookstore, at a writer’s conference (like UNM’s own Taos Summer Writer’s Conference). This summer, I’m in San Diego, and I found a great organization called San Diego Writers, Ink, and I’m excited to go to a reading they’re putting on Sunday (The great Matt Bell is going to be reading from his new book.), and I may even pay their membership fee so that I could have a quiet place to write outside of my apartment.
The point is that if you reach out, you can get the resources and community that may help motivate you and give structure to your writing routine. If you try to connect with someone, the worse they could do is not connect back. I’ve found, though, that most writers are eager to talk craft or to have a new friend to share their work with or to write silently next to.
Christina Glessner is a third-year MFA candidate in Fiction at the University of New Mexico. She is Managing Editor for Blue Mesa Review.