Pursuing Your Craft: Community

Perhaps, like me, you have experienced the frustration of trying to trying to pursue your craft all by yourself. You have your goal or your dream and you’re trying so hard to plug away day after day, and maybe like me, you eventually find yourself in a hole, stuck. No motivation, no idea of where to go, and you just fizzle out.

Or maybe I’m the only one?

I don’t know about you, but I need people around me. I need people who are going in the same direction, who are pursuing similar goals, who ‘get it’. It’s hard to talk about writing a Bible study with people who have never even tried it. Or who don’t even write. They don’t get it.

Same with novels.

Same with blogging.

Same with whatever it is we’re trying to do.

I have accomplished more of my writing goals since joining a writing-specific community than I had in all of my other writing time combined. My writing has improved and so has my time-management ability.

I have a group of people who get it. Who will celebrate with me as I get closer to my goals and who will understand when I get frustrated. I can brainstorm with them. I can get honest feedback from them. I have a group that surrounds me who is going the same direction.

So how do we find that kind of community?

As a work-at-home mom who lives in a small, rural community, I turned to the internet. Author’s Tale is a group on facebook that I was added to by another writer friend I’d met in a previous writing community. Being part of this group has connected me to a great number of people pursuing the same craft as me even though we’re in different places on the spectrum.

I do live close-ish to a more urban area and I’m sure there is some kind of writer scene there, but I haven’t managed to break into it yet. I’d love to have an in-person writing community, but until my life stage changes, I just don’t think that’s in the cards for me.

But what about you? Where do you live? What is around you? What is your craft? Where do people who do what you do hang out?

These are great questions to ask yourself when looking for your own community of crafters. Writers meet at coffee shops, knitters meet at yarn stores, etc.

Where would crafters like you meet?

If there isn’t anything local for you, there’s always the internet. The advent of social media has been good for connecting people all over the world with similar interests. Is your craft one that translates well to the internet?

When I first started connecting to people online, I had some pretty wonky expectations. I hoped and thought that people would gravitate to me simply because I was me. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that. I’ve worked really hard and been really intentional about connecting – commenting on things instead of a like in passing, replying to comments to me (yes, every single one), and reading other people’s writing even when I don’t feel like it.

All of this effort is really paying off and I feel like I have a (very) small group of people I’m actually feeling connected to. It’s been humbling realizing that there isn’t anything so special about me that people automatically gravitate to me. I’ve realized that I have to go first. I have to put in the effort. When I do, though, it really pays off.

How about you? What is your social media strategy? How do you connect with others online?

Building community is essential. And it’s really hard. And there are days I really want to give up, throw in the towel, and do something easier. When I step back and reason through it, I know that’s ridiculous. I know that I’m a writer. I need to write. If I want to succeed, I need others around me who know more and who do better. It also helps having a few people around me who are worse than me too. That also spurs me on to keep writing, to keep trying, to keep getting better.

How about you? What stage are you in with building community? Did you struggle? What is one thing that really worked for you?

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