Monday, April 16, 2012

What's So Great About Community?

Something I wasn't expecting when I became serious about writing, was that I would be involved in community. Once I became a member of ACFW and got connected to the large crit group, I was amazed at how many people out there were on the same journey as me...and I was even more surprised that I grew true, honest-to-goodness friendships by virtual means, and then solidified them by meeting those friends in person at the ACFW conference over the past two years.

I've learned that community as a writer is such a valuable asset, as well as a necessity, in my opinion, to truly grow as a writer.

Being a part of the magnificent group of women at The Writer's Alley, is my greatest evidence of these things, and I want to encourage you to sew yourself into a community of writers, even if it's online.

Three musts to becoming part of a community fabric are:

Frequency: It would be easy for me to only contact the AlleyCats to tell them about my next post for the Weekend edition...but all ten of us have allowed our inboxes to fill up, really, REALLY fill up, with conversations back and forth, prayer requests, suggestions, questions, or even sillyness that always ends with a reference to chocolate in some form or fashion! You see, it's hard to consider yourself a part of something, if you are rarely making yourself present.

Transparency: Through all that frequency, it's hard to remain closed-off, unknown, masked. Your personality does come out...this is a good thing!! It makes you real and relateable. I have met some wonderful writers through blogland. And some of my most treasured friendships are with bloggers who don't just review books, but write about the personal life...motherhood, weight loss, what's going on besides the writing. Transparency is essential to knit yourself closely with your community.

Encouragement: It's easy to think of this business as “each man for himself” and a cutthroat kind of industry where your chances are slim, so why give anyone else an inch? Truly though, trust is key to community, and if you want to find a support group, a community of writers to journey with you, encouragement is essential too. And it is so nice to receive that encouragement also!

You may be saying...”What's the point, Angie? Sure, it's nice to have community, but is it really necessary?”

YES! I think it is. I have LEARNED so much from being in community. And I will give some examples:

P-R-A-Y-E-R …. To pray within your community, to know that others are praying for you in the midst of this journey, is powerful. Period.

Instruction: There have been more than one AlleyCat friend (ahem, Sarah, whom I will miss dearly as an AlleyCat), Writer friends, Authors...etc...that have given me specific advice through crits, phone conversations, emails...that only could blossom from relationship, from community.

A Sense of Self: Yep, it's true, you learn so much about yourself through the eyes of others, and community is a safe place to find this personal enrichment.

My biggest credits to this school of thought, are the AlleyCats and our followers. We have such great discussion in our comments section, as well as via email. As you can see, we are only one follower away from the big 5-0-0!!!! Woohoo...there's a party coming to the Alley! I hope you enjoy this community as much as I do!

Please consider this opportunity to nominate The Writer's Alley!!

Each year, Writers Digest releases a list of the 101 Best Websites for Writers. They come up with this list through a nomination and review process. And that's where you come in...
If The Writer's Alley has inspired you along your road to publication, would you consider nominating our website?
Here's how:
Just send an email to Writers.Digest@fwmedia.comduring the month of April explaining why The Writer's Alley is your favorite writing website. That's all there is to it!


Angie Dicken first began writing fiction as a creative outlet during the monotonous days of diapers and temper tantrums. She is passionate to impress God's love on women regardless of their background or belief. This desire serves as a catalyst for Angie's fiction, which weaves salvation and grace themes across cultures. She is an ACFW member and CEO of a family of six.


Bonnee Crawford said...

Communities are good, and it's always great to know that someone's got your back. Thanks for sharing this, Ally Cat :)

Debra E. Marvin said...

Oh I so agree with you. As a member of a group blog (Inkwell Inspirations) I also joined for one reason not knowing what it really meant and the richness of sisterhood I would find. What a blessing.

Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

The Christian writing community is such a welcoming group. They are so helpful and encouraging. I can't tell you how much The Writer's Alley Cats mean to me! Their encouragement pushes me forward and I am so blessed to be a part of them!

Beth K. Vogt said...

The Alley Cats are some of my favorite people I've met along the writing road! Y'all are fun & encouraging & s-m-a-r-t!
Looking forward to celebrating the big five-oh-oh with you!

Unknown said...

Y-E-S! That's what I was thinking as I read this post...exactly! I had no idea when I started getting involved with other writers just how rewarding community could be! Now I'm so glad I don't have to walk this writing road alone! :)

I nominated The Alley Cats!

Jeanne T said...

Community--essential for writers! I'm learning how to become part of the community of writers, and the beauty of sharing this passion for story with others who "get it."

It's fun to see the relationships you gals have established with each other and to hear about how you encourage each other. Thanks for sharing it with us!

Unknown said...

I love the writing community I've found through ACFW and My Book Therapy. I know for absolutely positive I wouldn't be where I am in my writing journey today without that community cheering me on, encouraging me, challenging me.

Woohoo!! Can't wait to see you get to 500!

Joanne Sher said...

ADORE this post - and community. Personally, I'd go BONKERS without it!

Lindsay Harrel said...

Love the women I've "met" here and all the posts that encourage me and remind me that I'm not alone!

Susan Anne Mason said...

Great post, Angie.

When I first started writing (as a hobby), I had no idea what the writing world involved. I can't believe how far I've come on this journey and everything I've learned. The wonderful on-line community of writers has been a HUGE added bonus!

Aren't we lucky we have the internet? Imagine trying to connect without it?

Will definitely go and vote!


Cindy R. Wilson said...

How fun to read all these comments! I completely agree, community is essential. I would not be where I am in my writing career (emotionally, spiritually, etc.) without everyone I've met, without their encouragement, and without their support. Love you guys!

Angie Dicken said...

This is what I am talking about!!! You readers are so encouraging and willing to be transparent! It's amazing that have never met, but feel connected through the frequency of sharing our thoughts on the same road to publication. Thank you to all for stopping by the Alley, and for nominating us in the Writer's Digest top websites.

Keli Gwyn said...

I wrote my first five manuscripts in isolation. Those two years were lonely ones.

And then I finaled in the GH, and Seeker Tina searched until she found me--via my car club's newsletter editor. I crawled out of my cave and looked around with awe. What a thrill it was to discover the wonderful of writers hanging out in cyberspace--a generous, supportive, fun, chocolate-loving group I treasure.

Community rocks! And the writing community rocks BIG time!

Mary Vee Writer said...

There are times when inventing or reinventing the wheel is simply too hard to do by yourself.
Thank God He has given us ACFW, Writers Alley, and a host of other Christian writing organizations willing to nurture, encourage, hold a hand, laugh, cry, cheer, and bless us.
Thanks for the post, Ang.

Julia M. Reffner said...

Amen! I can't wait to be in on that group pic this year! Only wish every single one could come! I've been encouraged so much by ACFW and you Alley gals!

Ashley Clark said...

What a great picture of us! Love that one. And I'm so happy to be part of a community with all you ladies. Don't know what I'd do without your feedback and encouragement, Angie!

Lisa Jordan said...

You're now at 500!!

I thought I've been following you all along, but I guess not. Now I am. :)

Community is an integral part of my writing journey. By having friends in my corner to pray and encourage me, I know I'm not alone. I'm so thankful for the friends I've made and the new ones I know I'll be meeting at upcoming conferences.

And this is a tremendous writing community!

Angie Dicken said...

Lisa!!!! Thank you for being #500!!! Woohoo!:)

Pepper said...

Great post, Ang
I certainly feel this community is one of the great supports I have.
I LOVE my Alley Cats!!

And GO LISA!!! You are AWESOME! 500!

It's party time!

Jacqueline Howett said...

You're a wonderful inspiration!

Yes in reflection, writers must grow. I've met so many nice people online.

Enjoy your week!

Janneke-Yonica said...

You write like an angel. I am so delighted to see here your sharing about how great the journey is. As my novel goes out for proposals, it's a very important time for me to remember the journey. Blessings and lots of light to your path!

Angie Dicken said...

Thanks, Ladies! The writing community is amazing!!