This weekend I found myself spending some unexpected time with my current writing project. Friday afternoon I met up with some of my teammates for this year’s GISHWHES scavenger hunt, and after several hours of hanging out with other creative people, I felt the need to push my own creativity for the rest of the weekend. Things that would normally serve as distractions held no interest for me and my family left me alone with my laptop for once (an unusual occurrence for many writers out there!).
At first I didn’t quite know what to do with this unanticipated opportunity. For awhile I simply reread my latest chapter and struggled to ignore my inner critic who was begging me to do some serious editing. After the third or fourth read-through, however, I convinced the pesky, little gremlin that this is still my first draft and that my prose isn’t as bad as what it believes. Just because my writing doesn’t flow in the same way as the book I am currently reading doesn’t mean the flow is bad.
Once I got started on adding to my draft, I had a small but important epiphany regarding a character whose personality has been eluding me since I started writing this story. While I can’t pinpoint exactly what was said that resulted in this epiphany, I do know it came about as I pondered over several conversations I had during that Friday meet-up.
So what’s the point of me telling you any of this?…
The basic message is that we don’t have to be with people who share our same creative outlets in order to draw support and inspiration from each other. While I do miss the writing groups that I participated in during my college years, I am now finding that simply being around other creative people can be just as helpful for keeping me motivated. Online communities are great and can provide necessary critique and technical assistance when it comes to writing specifics, but having an in-person group can’t be beat for creating a supportive and active atmosphere.
It may take you some searching if you don’t already have such a real-life group of your own. And the groups you do find may be fleeting at best. (I am doubtful my own will meet up much once the competition is over until it is time to plan for next year’s scavenger hunt.) But surrounding yourself with people who strive to complete their own personal goals can only help you in completing your own. You may find your new friends in unexpected places or you may have to push yourself outside of your comfort zones in order to meet new people. But in the end, connecting and building your own local community is worth it.