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Friday, March 4, 2011

Feel like Nike: Make a Community.

I don't know about you, but it's hard for me to watch a certain tv star self destruct on each and every media outlet available. He's got quite a lot to say, and boy howdy, he's saying it!
But what are the consequences? Lost job, lost custody, lost respect....
Whatever your opinion, consider those around him:  friends, family, co-workers. People have not only lost their jobs, they've lost their place to go every morning.

Like it or not, it's more than just a paycheck. It's Community with a capital 'C'.

And Communities of people who share a common interest or goal can make big things -- BIG things -- happen.

I used to be a  runner.  I'm not an athlete-- note I said 'used to be'. I ran to lose weight, and it worked! I liked it, but I didn't love it. So some days, some runs, were a slog... heavy footfalls, draggy legs, hard breathing. Sweat.
One particular 10k was awful. I was all alone, with hundreds of other runners of course. But no buddy to run with, no family member waiting for me at the end. It was in the city, on asphalt, smog in the July air.
I was lonely, bored, hot,pitiful ... just gutting it out.
Behind me came another runner. A lady who said, "I've been drafting you for the last mile. You're good for me, keep it up."
I was good for her?
With those words, I felt lighter, I could breathe easier. I was still sweaty, but that was okay .
Hearing that my running, my pace, my dogged persistence of just putting one foot in front of the other was affecting someone else... I was no longer alone.
With those words, I was Nike!

Okay, so maybe that's a little over the top. I am so not Nike. These days I'm back on the treadmill, just so I won't embarrass myself in my neighborhood.  Predawn, in black tights, so I don't reflect the moonlight and blind somebody heading off to work.

But the words someone spoke when I needed it made a huge difference. Big things happened. A year later I ran a half marathon in 2:30:30. Respectable enough for 45+. (Sometime I'll figure out the app to post my picture, not that it's attractive or anything....)

We writers are the best of encouragers, the best supporters of one another. Get us together and watch the magic happen.

But where do you find your Community?

Here's your 'Go' point : Facebook and Twitter. Use hashtags like #romancewriter, #writechat, #amblogging, #amwriting in the search bar and voila!  Follow people who are doing what you want to do, read their blogposts and sites. 'Friend' others, like your favorite author, or someone whose comments reflect just what you were thinking. Participate in a comment conversation.

You will be energized when you give somebody that "atta girl!" or "WTG!" or even just a thumbs up. It shows you read, you liked, you agreed, you identify.
And it will all come back to you too, when you ask for information, guidance, or just reinforcement.

More involved: Google or look in your local paper for your area's writing guilds, organizations, and conferences. Find out where and when they meet.Go.
And don't drag your friend who really can't wait for it to be over so she can score some shoes afterward.
Go alone if you have to, but go. 
It took me a year to say anything to anybody at my local Romance Writers' of America chapter. I flew under the radar; I spoke only when spoken to. I needed to find my place with these people.
So I took a chance-- I signed up to go to a workshop that was hours away, and I gave another member (whom I'd never met in person, but on the chapter board online) a ride. We sat with others from our chapter.
Then I was offered a massage by the man who sat across from me at the workshop. And no, he was not a therapist. Ahem.
My chapter friends did Elmer's proud.

The girl who rode with me? The soon to be famous Sally Kilpatrick now co-chairs Moonlight & Magnolias, a major writers' conference our chapter is famous for. She has a fabulous book she's shopping around, as well as a hilarious blog of her own : http://www.superwritermom.blogspot.com/

And I have two fab critique partners, (shout out to Pam Asberry http://pamasberry.blogspot.com and Lindy Chaffin Start http://unstoppablestart.blogspot.com/ ). I'm on Facebook, Twitter, and many thanks to them, I'm HERE!
Everybody's been in the same beginning place.

Don't just watch and lurk. Make the magic happen for others, and magic will happen for you too.
Feel like Nike. 

Who's your Community? Do you know where to find one? How to find it?  Tell me your great ideas where to find writer friends and supporters.


  1. Obviously I know one great place to look online, but I'm having trouble finding anything locally.

  2. Oh, and you put your picture on here by adding the profile gadget.

  3. This is a wonderful blog! Yesterday's post was so good and yet I like today's even more. I too am a "runner" in the loosest sense of the word and I know exactly what you are speaking about (I am doing my first 10k this fall!!). I haven't had a chance to join any local groups, but joining HP's online writing group has been so inspiring and supportive it makes me want to branch out and try other avenues as well.

  4. Thanks for the shout-out, my friend! You are so right... there is magic in the air! :-)

  5. I depend on my family for my main community. I couldn't do anything without them. I get energy from listening to writers like you. Thanks for increasing our community by one!

  6. Elizabeth... I am so new at this. My pic is all the way down the bottom of the page! I'll be sure to take care of that! Thanks!

  7. Elizabeth & Lizzie, HP's page is the first step! I hope you'll take a look at the groups out there or get the courage to start something in your own neighborhood. There's so many others writing in their lonely caves without a clue.... we would never have met here without HP Mallory taking that first step.

  8. Pam, 2011 is THE year to be a writer!

    Nicki, your leadership inspires and energizes. Thanks for visiting, & come back soon!


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