We’re now in the final third of the How To Become A Better Writer series, and it’s crazy to think it has come this far. Let’s cut to the chase here and dive right in! This post is about community action – how becoming successful as a writer necessitates being involved with and supporting others, and being generous.
1. Think About The Community You’re Already In
As writers, we crave for our writing to be read. We want to know that the words we crafted crossed paths with another heart, mind and soul, and that they made an impact. Yet, strangely enough, we writers often miss the most important aspect of making a difference with our words.We writers often miss the most important aspect of writing: community. Click To Tweet
We overlook how being involved in a community – whether online, in person or both – is the core of reaching other people with anything. People like to interact with those they know, like and trust. As writers, we can often think we’ve created a work of depth and purpose, but if we don’t have real relationships with other human beings first, our writing will suffer in a dark corner of loneliness and lack of support.
Are you currently part of an online community, or one in person? There isn’t necessarily a right or wrong way to do this – though I would recommend being a part of both if possible. Being part of an online community affords convenience and ease of access, but working with people together in person builds a sense of community faster and can often help you see past obstacles more quickly.
If you aren’t part of a community yet, why is this? It’s nothing to feel bad about or beat yourself up over, but simply a question to ask yourself.
- Have you been focused on work?
- Have you been unaware of local meetups or likeminded groups online?
- Have you been invited to a group but turned it down?
These are all factors to consider. While there is no single accurate or “right” way to become a successful writer or author, being involved with others is always an ingredient in the recipe. You don’t have to do exactly what everyone else is doing, but finding your groove within a community of some kind is essential.
Do you like the community you’re currently in? If not, what might you do to change it? This can be a catalyst for new growth if/when you decide to move from one community to another. Again, there’s no right or wrong way to do this, or right or wrong reason to. You simply have to find people who you feel “at home” with – and people who you can support – and go from there.
2. How Can You Support Your Community?
Now that you’ve done some more work identifying which community you are a part of, let’s spend some time thinking about how they can be benefited.
- Are they looking for help on specific issues?
- Do they need a new voice among stale veterans – one that is willing to speak supportive truth?
- Are they dissenters who are trying to overturn something harmful or sub-optimal in the niche/market?
These are just a few ideas to get you started. More importantly than anything else, use the power of listening. Listening can be easier and more enjoyable than you may think – you just need to be patient and persistent. People are weirdly interesting – especially the more you listen to them. You never know what you’ll discover, but you can’t know until you listen and find out!
3. Link Up With Likeminded People From Nearby
Whenever possible, finding likeminded authors and writers from nearby is nearly always a boon to your personal development. Getting together to compare highs, lows and experiences is a sure way to make you feel like you are less alone on your journey, and that someone else is alongside you, accomplishing the same things.
4. Support Writers Offline
Supporting writers offline is often just as fun and helpful as supporting writers online. The few times there are book tours or speaking events in your area, head out to one that interests you. The author is always excited and grateful to see people showing up, and you often have the chance to speak with them after their segment.
5. Go To Book Launch Parties, Signing Events And Speaking Engagements
As mentioned above, speaking events and book tours are awesome. The only two types of community actions that can top the aforementioned are book signings and book launch parties.
Launch parties can vary in style, length and environment. The type of venue and genre of book can give you an accurate overview of what to expect, but you won’t fully know what you’re getting into until you get there. This should never keep you away – especially if you’re already interested in the book and the author – but just keep in mind that book launch parties can vary greatly (this is a good thing).
6. Support Writers Online
As crucial and fun as it is to support writers offline, supporting them online has never been easier, and you can usually be most efficient this way. Aside from the basics like buying books, subscribing to email lists and following them on social media, there are other concrete ways to support the wordsmiths you love:
- Commenting on blogs
- Sharing their work on social media
- Tagging them in posts or pictures
- Emailing or messaging them directly to let them know how you’ve benefited from their work (without asking them for anything)
7. Use Areas Of Community Focus, If Applicable
Think about ways in which you and/or writers you love – and the corresponding work you/they are involved in – can help the actual town or city you live in.
For example, a writer concerned with jobs and job growth could partner with the local town hall to do a book giveaway that also supports attention for local businesses, especially any that are hiring. Another example might be a health and nutrition author doing a speaking event or some type of activity for families, children or another demographic in a town that needs help getting healthier. The possibilities truly are endless – all it takes is a bit of research beforehand.
8. Make 3-5 New Close Friends
When thinking about community, oftentimes the following descriptions may arise:
These are all great words, but they miss the most important piece of community: connection.
Finding a handful of new close friends will help you feel charged up – both on a regular basis and when you need to tackle your toughest work. Having three to five close friends also helps keep you accountable. There’s nothing like knowing someone will ask you about your project to truly get it done. These are, or can become, the die-hard supporters encouraging you to keep pushing when you otherwise want to give up.
9. Be Respectful And Intentional With Everyone
With the ubiquity and ease of access of social media and wireless connection, maintaining convenient relationships has never been easier. It’s all too simple and straightforward to talk with someone online and consider them your friend, but let the conversation or intentionality fall to the wayside when something more important or interesting comes up.
These types of interactions, often for both people, don’t come without negative side effects. For one, just talking with people when you need them sets the stage for a more shallow relationship to begin with.
You never know who else you’re going to see at the top. Regardless of any reasons you may think an individual is unfit for success, people from all backgrounds have been found to become successful. It’s in your best interest to treat everyone with respect at all times. If you can’t or don’t want to make friends with someone, give them respect and civility, wish them well, and continue about your day.
10. Generosity Is A Necessity
Last but never least, generosity in working with others is always a necessity – especially as a writer. As Jeff Goins once said: “A writer’s greatest enemy is anonymity. The best way to beat this is through generosity.”
It can be easy to get hung up on generosity. I’ve often wondered myself about whether or not generosity can be boiled down into a science. The truth is multifaceted – generosity cannot be reduced to a science, but it can be planned for and improved upon.
The simplest way to approach generosity is to always give others a bare minimum of 1.5 times what you would normally give them. This is a great default rule because even when you’re planning for “business as usual,” you’re going above and beyond what others would do.
To be clear, generosity should never be turned into a competition. You should never try to “out-grace” or overdo anyone else when it comes to giving back. But you should always be focused on giving your audience more than they are anticipating. As the saying goes, people don’t always remember what you did or what you said, but they always remember how you made them feel.