The Importance of Community by Lauralynn Elliott

One of the things I’ve found out about writers is that most are introverts. I’m sure that’s no big surprise to you, right? I’ve always been an extrovert on the outside, comfortable around other people, but sometimes it becomes sensory overload. It wasn’t until I took some kind of test (I think it’s called Myers-Briggs) that I realized I really was, basically an introvert. I can be around people for a while, but soon I’m ready to get away. I much prefer small groups of close friends to a party where I know few people. I do okay with those parties, but not for an extended time.

There has to be a point to all of this, you’re thinking. Yes, I’m getting there, I promise. My point is that if we’re mostly introverts, what do we do when we actually need someone? Are we comfortable asking for help, or do we just try to go it alone? Obviously, since you are all part of this wonderful challenge called ROW80, you feel the need for something other than sitting in your own corner and shutting out the world. But do you use all the resources ROW80 has to offer?

When Kait Nolan started this challenge, she did it because she felt there was a need for a challenge that took in consideration the fact that life outside of writing does exist. She wanted to offer a challenge that didn’t make you lose sleep or forget to eat because you HAD to make that word count. She wanted to offer a challenge that was much less stressful than some of the other ones around the web. Kait has accomplished what she set out to do, and we’re all so grateful for that. But as much as ROW80 has to offer, are we letting this challenge help us in all the ways it can? As introverts, sometimes we keep to ourselves and don’t open up to all possibilities.

So, what can ROW80 offer us? Here are a few things I’ve thought about.

  1. Experience. Some of the authors have been writing and publishing for years. If you have a question about an aspect of publishing, are you afraid to ask for help? Do you feel like you’re “bothering” someone? Or do you take advantage of the experience of others? I don’t mean you never try to learn on your own. You shouldn’t expect others to tell you everything, and constantly hold your hand. But when you’re not sure of something or stuck on something, don’t be afraid to ask for help. I’ve been self-publishing for about 4 ½ years, and I’m also glad to help anyone who needs it.
  1. Encouragement. There are a lot of writers in this ROW80 group who are natural cheerleaders. You can tell these people, usually, by the comments they make. When you’re feeling discouraged do you feel comfortable asking these people for help? Or do you curl up in a ball and feel sorry for yourself? Don’t be afraid to ask for help. That doesn’t mean you depend on them for your happiness because we all need to learn to stand on our own. But sometimes we just need a kind word or a pat on the back.
  1. Discipline. Maybe that word seems a little harsh, but I didn’t know what other word to use. Sometimes, instead of a “good job” we need a “stop whining and get your butt in gear”. There comes a point where we need a kick in the butt. We don’t need someone to say “Oh, that’s ok, I know you’re doing the best you can”, but we need “Do you want to be a writer or not? Get to it!” Do you feel comfortable telling someone you need to be accountable and you need them to help you do it? There are some people in ROW80 that aren’t afraid to tell you that you need to sit in that chair and WRITE. If that’s what you need, seek out those people, but don’t be upset if they kick your butt. That’s what you wanted needed, right?

So are we ready to fully utilize ROW80? Are we ready to be a community of writers who help each other in any way that’s needed? Are you willing to give as well as take? Then let’s all get started being a true community. And let’s get some writing done!

~*~

Lauralynn Elliott

6 comments

  1. Excellent points, Lauralynn. The community is the first benefit I saw to ROW. It is one thing to set goals, but who is out there to keep us honest, or to care when we accomplish something? The friends that I’ve made through ROW have helped me through some difficult times, personal and in writing – and I am thankful for them every day. Thanks for the beautiful reminder🙂

    1. Thanks, Gene. It’s nice to know that we are in this together. And I have definitely made some friends along the way. And found some beta reader, too!🙂 I’m always thankful for Kait because she’s done this for us.

  2. Nail, head.

    There are a few new ROWers that I feel need are in need of some guiding light… I can only hope they see this post before they blunder off into the darkness.

    1. I think the ROWers that drop out are sometimes the ones that just don’t feel comfortable using the community. I know we’re all busy, but if I can help someone, I’m glad to. And I know you are, too. Sometimes we don’t know who needs help until they ask. And then there are the ones that you can kind of tell.

  3. Excellent post, Lauralynn! I’ve been involved with ROW80 for nearly a year now and have reaped the benefits you mention – (you’ve helped me out by answering questions a few times!…and thanks!) I hope new joiners will experience the same. Without the encouragement of community, I may have allowed myself to slack in my work, to neglect my goals when the going got tough. Because of the accountability of bi-weekly check-ins, I’ve been more apt to get it in gear!

    1. Thanks, Nadja! I’ve been with ROW80 since the beginning, and it’s still as important to me now as it was then. I know I wouldn’t have published as many works as I have if I had been going it alone. It feels so good to be able to post successes and share them with others. At the same time, it’s good to know there are people who understand when you aren’t doing as well.

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