Who cares about your writing? That’s an important question. If life with writing in it is better than life without it, then you care, for one.
And people who like to write tend to cross paths with other people who like to write. If you’re sharing your writing with someone, it’s a good bet they care about your writing, as well.
In fact, as you build a habit of writing, you will probably discover a number of people who are happy to see you learning and growing and writing.
As for discouragers… well, there are plenty. And as quick as they are to pile new doubts atop the mountain you’ve already heard – they also serve to deepen your appreciation for the kind souls who offer you encouragement and support.
Who encourages you to write? A friend, another writer…? Perhaps you’ve found a workshop, or a mentor. Maybe you’ve found a librarian whose love of books extends to writers. What about that neighbor who likes to carve – he understands the creative urge. Or the cousin who asks about your writing whenever you cross paths.
Imagine a map that looks like a bulls-eye target. Put yourself at the center. In the expanding circles, write the names of people and situations that incline you to write. Place the biggest influences close to the center, and, further out, those that help indirectly.
Who would be in the first circle, encouraging and helping you? Who would be in the second circle, inspiring you or showing you new possibilities?
Who or what might be in the outer circles…? Are there programs at your library; is there a writers guild in your area? Does a local bookstore offer workshops or readings? Who is the Poet Laureate in your region or state – or country – and what are they doing to encourage writers and writing? There’s always the radio, with programs like Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac.
How about retreat centers… conferences? We are surrounded by authors and artists and films. Which ones do you like? They belong on your map.
Think of the resources in these circles as points of light. They form the constellation of people who like to see you writing. They are your Community of Practice.
What do you do with this Community?
1. Map it out, so you can see who’s in it.
2. Enjoy their help.
3. Thank them.
Turn around and help someone else. It doesn’t take much to nurture a kindred spirit. Who could you encourage?
A child, a friend, the cashier at the grocery story who likes to write poetry. Writer, artist, dancer, cook, teacher: anyone who is doing something they love to do, for pay or for love, is following that creative urge.
Encourage someone. Ask them what they love to do: listen deeply and respond generously. When you help someone else, you become part of their Community of Practice.
Now imagine a whole network of Communities of Practice. That’s something to write home about…!
If you could add one person, place, or event to your Community of Practice… who or what would it be?
As always… fictional and improbable answers highly encouraged…!