On Community

 
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No matter what course or workshop you take with me, I will always emphasize the necessity for community.

 A big part of creation and discussion is getting your work out into the world, and publishing is not the only medium. Reading your work in public not only gives you confidence in terms of hearing your own words and owning them, but to introduce your voice and story to folks who may not have otherwise had an opportunity to experience it.

 Attending readings, events, writer’s festivals, book launches, and magazine launches will help you constantly be in that writerly mindset (meaning you will write more) and to meet and connect with other writers, editors, and readers. Like I said before, writing is not only about the physical act of sitting down in that chair, it’s also about a mindset.

 Building a sense of community also reinforces the fact that you are not alone. We are all in the trenches together. Meeting with other like-minded writers will only breed more opportunity to get your writing out there.

 Things will come back full circle. I have been asked to do so many writing-related projects because people see me and hear me everywhere. It’s important to let people know you.

 I recommend starting a “networking” file or spreadsheet and add it to your writer’s toolbox. As you meet people at events, grab their contact info or look them up. Keep track of people you meet. This is an easy way to keep in touch with folks in case you need to reach out. I always appreciate when I get an encouraging email from someone, be it a reader or another writer or editor, who attended an event that I was part of. 

 If you are on Facebook or Twitter, follow local literary magazines, local writers, and other organizations relating to writing in your area. This is a good way to stay in the loop when events in your area pop up.

 I know that it’s important to have a face and a voice that connect to the words.

The above post is an excerpt of a lecture from my Advanced Memoir and Advanced Poetry Workshops.