About seven years ago, I partnered with Charity Singleton Craig to co-author On Being a Writer.
While working on the draft, we often pulled up one of our shared Google Docs to review our drafts and notes in real time. In this way, we wove together our stories and experiences with relative ease.
If we had a grade school report card at the end of the project, the teacher would have checked off “Plays nice with others.”
Writing is most often a solitary act. But sometimes we get an opportunity to write with others. These occasions may involve brief connections or extended collaboration. Quite often, they’re just plain fun.
The Energy of the Inklings
Have you heard of the Inklings? They met weekly for beer and conversation, according to Diane Glyer in an article at the official C. S. Lewis website. While they didn’t officially collaborate, like Charity and I did on our book, their discussions affected the shape and direction of countless projects.
Glyer writes in “C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, and the Inklings” that the men would gather, make tea, and begin pulling out drafts of their work. As one person read, “the others would settle down to listen, to encourage, to critique, to correct, to interrupt and argue and advise. They’d continue this way, reading aloud, energetically critiquing, until two or three in the morning.1
Years ago I craved that kind of creative community.
I even considered moving to a college town, thinking I’d be more likely to find a gathering like the Inklings there.
Find Your Creative Community
The good news is that it’s easier than ever to find like-minded writers without moving to live near a university.
These days, I know writers who meet at cafes (or they did before 2020, and they’ll start up again soon, I’m sure) to discuss technique or simply to write on separate projects in the same space. Some chai, a chat, then back to the works in progress.
Writers who contribute to anthologies feel part of a project-driven community.
Writing retreats are a fun way to power through personal goals with a posse of fellow writers. Churn out a few thousand words, then relax with others who appreciate your creative challenges.
Then there are in-person and online communities that write together, like:
- silent or guided writing sessions via Zoom (in guided sessions, a moderator might offer writing prompts)
- silent or guided writing rooms on Clubhouse (these exist!)
- social media writing challenges that use a shared prompt or hashtag
Look for existing writing groups where you can jump into a writing challenge and meet new people, broadening your network as you make new friends.
Form Your Own Community
But don’t forget you can create your own little gathering.
Do you know another writer? Someone with similar goals? Ask if they’d be a writing buddy. The two of you can text each other each day when you complete your daily word count goal.
Treat it like a short-term experiment at first, to test the waters. You never know? Perhaps you’ll find another word nerd who sends you grammar memes and Hemingway quotes.
Generate Our Own Creative Energy
Diane Glyer said the Inklings “generated enormous creative energy.”2 I love the sound of that, don’t you?
We may not find a group as vibrant, educated, or British as the Inklings, but we can form our own gathering. We can generate our own creative energy.
Or we can join an existing community that exudes its own personality and flavor.
We may forge lifelong friendships like those men who authored great literary works; but more likely, we’ll enjoy something simpler.
We’ll have fun.
We’ll play nice with others.
And that’s a good place to start, isn’t it?
Links & Resources
See if something below is exactly what you need for your creative journey:
- Join the hope*writers 7-day Instagram writing challenge (they run this periodically; the next one starts Monday, May 10, 2021): click to learn more about the challenge (and find out the 7 prompts)
- Hosted by Kate Motaung, Five-Minute Friday is “an online Christian writing community that encourages and equips Christian writers.” You can visit its home base here and its linkup here, where you can read samples of what others write in response to the weekly prompts.
- Tweetspeak Poetry periodically offers reading clubs and writing challenges, but you can interact with other literary types in the comments section of their articles.
- Join us in Your Platform Matters, the membership community I host, where we provide encouragement, training, and support for writers seeking the reach and retain ideal readers.
- Why Every Writer Needs a Buddy
- Glyer, Diane. “C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, and the Inklings – Official Site.” Official Site | CSLewis.com, 16 Apr. 2009, www.cslewis.com/c-s-lewis-j-r-r-tolkien-and-the-inklings/.