Finding Your Writing Community Can Help You Cross the Finish Line to Success
“If you stay with me, I’ll stay with you.”
That’s what Laura Mazur suggested to Jessica Robertson, forming an agreement with a woman she didn’t even know.
They’d met about halfway into the 26.2 miles of the 2019 Pittsburgh Marathon, when Mazur looked around behind her to see Robertson there. They were the last runners, and they became “race buddies” to encourage each other and make sure they both finished.
They crossed the finish line holding hands — a moment of triumph for two strangers who shared a journey to achieve a goal.
Perhaps you’ve seen the viral photo? It was inspirational and emotional. It showed the power of not going it alone, even in a solo sport like running.
In marathons, being first doesn’t matter except to the elite, competitive runners. What matters to most runners is simply crossing the finish line. And perhaps getting a better time than they had before … setting a new personal record.
There are other stories like Mazur’s and Robertson’s — of runners helping other runners cross the finish line — in almost every marathon ever held. It happens in shorter races, too.
Because while each runner is running their own individual race — staying in their own lane, so to speak — there is also a sense of community among runners. A shared finish line. A feeling of “we’re all in this together.”
This is why you’ll often see early finishers circle back around and cheer on the slower runners. Why strangers will help each other and stay with one another to the end. When you’ve gone through the journey together, the shared victory at the finish line is somehow sweeter.
It’s harder to quit when the going gets tough if there’s someone else by your side going through the same challenges. (This is just as true in business as it is in fitness, losing weight, fighting addiction, or anything else that takes dedication and effort.)
Writers Are Like Runners
I think the writing community is a lot like the running world … Common goals. Being in it together. Strangers meeting and helping each other along to the finish line. Those who have found success circling back around to support other writers coming up behind them.
I’ve found mentors, colleagues, and lifelong friends in our writing community. And these connections are vital. Because only another writer can truly understand the unique challenges we writers face every day.
Since writing is a solo pursuit rather than a team sport, we have to be intentional about connecting with other writers. With developing a support system of peers who understand and “get” us.
Luckily, there are many ways to find writers with whom you can connect. For example, I’ve built lasting relationships with writers I’ve met at live events, conferences, and workshops. I’ve also connected with writers I’ve met online via social media, in online groups, and by participating in group learning programs.
There is no shortage of opportunity to connect with other writers, to build your own support community. The important thing is to find the ones who are the best fit for you and where you are in your writing life.
Here are seven things to look for in building your personal support community of fellow writers:
- Common Goals. A 5K runner probably isn’t the best support for someone training to run a 26.2-mile marathon. Likewise, a writer working to make a six-figure income may not be the best partner for someone who is content to do a little writing on the side for vacation money … and vice versa.
- Like-Minded, Yet with Unique Perspectives. Ideally, you’ll find writers with whom you share some of the same beliefs but whose different life experiences have given them unique perspectives. People who can look at the same issue and see different solutions and opportunities make for a fantastic, well-rounded group.
- Similar Training. If you’ve been through the same courses, or studied with the same instructors, you’ll speak the same language. You’ll more fully understand each other. Look for opportunities to connect with colleagues who are taking the same training.
- Willing to Give as Well as Receive Honest Feedback. It has to go both ways for you to be able to build a strong relationship. This is not just for writing critiques, although it’s certainly valuable there. Fellow writers also can be valuable assets to each other when it comes to feedback on business practices, productivity, and motivation.
- Ability to Be Open and Vulnerable. It’s hard to get to know, much less develop a meaningful relationship with, someone who doesn’t open up and let you get to know them. This also goes both ways. You need to feel comfortable to be open and vulnerable with them, too. Generally speaking, the direct-response community is filled with writers who are willing to support, not compete. We know there’s plenty of work to go around! I’ve heard of many cases where writers have recommended other professionals for projects and jobs.
- Commitment. It’s important that the writers in your group are committed to the process. They’ll show up for group calls. They’ll engage and respond to texts, emails, or social media posts. You need to know that they’re “all-in” with you. That they’ll be there for you.
- Positive Attitude. You want to surround yourself with writers who have a positive attitude and great energy. Misery may love company, but it’s not very productive. You want your writing community to carry you forward, to help you reach the finish line of whatever success looks like for you.
With this checklist in mind, you’ll be able to find your writing community. Attend live events. Become active in writers’ groups on social media (AWAI hosts several). Participate in group learning programs and challenges.
Be intentional about building relationships with the writers you meet who check all the boxes.
Your writing community will be different from mine, simply because we are different and may have different goals. It will serve the same purpose, though.
Your community will help you through the tough times. They’ll be there to support you and cheer you on. They’ll join you at the finish line and celebrate your success. And that makes the victory even better.
Do you need help finding a writing community that shares your goals? Please share in the comments so we can help.
The Professional Writers’ Alliance
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