These days, it is easier than ever before to access a creative community.
We interact with others online via social media pretty much on a daily basis.
But in spite of all the interactions, the posts and comments, do you struggle with really connecting with others?
I’d venture to say we’re at risk of losing the art of truly connecting with people and building deep and real community.
It’s just the nature of things. It is said that a person can only handle being in relationship with about 150 people. Our brains can’t process more than that.
How to Find A Creative Community
And yet …
- We follow several hundred on Instagram …
- And have about a thousand friends on Facebook …
- Thousands of quotes appearing on our Twitter feed …
- And on top of that watch scores of influencers on YouTube …
And we wonder why we feel alone and find it so hard to truly connect with people.
The sheer amount of information can be overwhelming.
So, we’re going to cover a few ways you can find a creative community or create one of your own (amidst the noise, the chatter, and the many options.)
Let’s talk about what a creative writing community might look like.
What Does a Creative Community Look Like?
One of the most well-known writing communities, which you’ve probably heard of if you are a writer (or an appreciator of high fantasy, mythopoeia, or philology) is The Inklings.
This creative writers group included C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, Charles Williams, and several others.
They would meet weekly, on Tuesday evenings I believe, and share their writings with each other.
(What I wouldn’t give to read transcripts or hear a recording of one of those meetings!)
And they did not agree on everything.
- While they were all faith-based writers, they belonged to different denominations and had different ideas of the ways faith should be lived out and manifested.
- While they were all scholars and deeply knowledgeable of good literature, they had different ideas of how that literature would be best written.
As such, you have very different works by each member …
But for the most part great works and truly enduring ones.
Many would say that those writings would not be the same if not for The Inklings and the writing community that they had.
That is what I think of when I think of a creative community.
So, how can you become part of an artistic or writing community like this?
#1. Find What Works for You
Part of creating a creative community (whether a writing community or some other type) is finding out what works for you.
Perhaps you are inspired by seeing comments and commenting on questions and posts by others.
If this is the case, perhaps a writing group on Facebook will work well for you.
I am on several writing groups on Facebook.
While I sometimes answer questions or even write a post of my own, I have never developed an ongoing, interactive writing relationship with anyone that way.
But I have seen threads of comments between others with an invitation to connect directly …
And I’m pretty sure they did just that.
There are many active online communities, and plenty of them involve the creative space.
Maybe you’ll find one that works for you.
#2. Support and Follow an Existing Creative Community
In a recent post on how to become a better writer, I mentioned The Rabbit Room and their creative writer and artist conference, Hutchmoot.
To me, they stand as an example of one of the most ideal types of creative communities that can be found these days, and one that has inspired and encouraged many people.
Although I’m not writing for their website and have not yet attended, much less spoken, at one of their Hutchmoot conferences, I still feel like I am a part of their creative community.
I keep an eye out for online posts or Instagram stories by members of that community.
I have been waiting waiting excitedly for a new version of Little Pilgrims Progress to come out this August, as it is illustrated by Joe Sutphin, one of the artists connected with The Rabbit Room. (It’s available for pre-ordering now.)
I feel that by supporting their community and their art, I am perhaps, in a very small way, part of that creative community.
But, of course, my current involvement is not the full extent of a creative community such as the one that The Inklings shared.
#3. Create a Local Writing Community
If you live in the same city as a few creatives or artists or writers, why not get together regularly and showcase your creative work and discuss it together?
These days, we have it little easier than C. S. Lewis and co’ because we have other ways of sharing our work if we can’t manage to meet once a week (or if a worldwide pandemic limits regular meetings).
- Share a Google docs folder and put your writings or artwork in it.
- Read and comment on each other’s works.
- Use Microsoft word to leave comments or even editorial suggestions in track changes.
- Have a weekly Zoom call where you share and discuss each other’s work.
Honestly (and I’m preaching to myself here), we really have no excuse for not creating more community and interacting more as writers and creatives.
We have the technology and the tools.
And we all have the same 168 hours in the week.
While I have said that writing itself is a solitary activity, the rewriting and the world building and even the beta-reading can be improved, and can be a better experience overall, when you have a creative community.
#4. Teach a Creative Community
I was teaching at a small school a few years back, and a friend and I invited any high schoolers who were interested to join us as participants in National Novel Writing Month.
We met every Friday over lunch break to discuss writing and watch videos on writing.
It was a short-term community. It only lasted about six weeks as it coincided with NaNoWriMo. While we never picked it up again, those six weeks were a lot of fun even though the majority of the writers were high schoolers half my age.
I loved hearing what they had to say and the things they had written …
Each in a different style but each in their own way …
So creative and so wonderful.
#5. Start Out Small
Even if it’s just one or two people with whom you can share your work, get some feedback, and provide feedback on theirs, it will be worth it to have a creative community.
If nothing else, you’ll be there to inspire one another and encourage each other to keep writing.
A few years back, life had gotten in the way of my writing and I had felt very little writing for a very long while.
I began to think that the writing life just wasn’t for me and entertained the idea of putting down my pen (metaphorically speaker) and focusing on other things.
It was discouragement talking.
What I really needed at that time was someone to tell me that it was okay to not be inspired …
… and it was okay to not have any ideas …
… and it was okay to sit down with a blank mind …
… and even that it was okay to not write for that time when so much else was going on.
Encouragement for the Struggling Creative
So, if that sounds like you right now …
If life has gotten in the way or you’re dealing with something heavy and harsh …
Whether you’re a writer or a musician or an artist of some other kind, I may not be part of your immediate creative community but I just want to say that it’s okay.
You won’t always feel inspired to write and you won’t always feel like seeking out a community.
There will be times you feel like burning your manuscript (or your music sheets or your canvas), but don’t do it.
Give it time if that’s what you need.
Take a break from the creative process for a little while if that’s what you need.
Or just force yourself to sit down and write something or sit at the piano and play something or pick up the paintbrush and paint something even if it’s just a stick figure.
But don’t don’t give up.
Because you are a creative, whether you have a community right now or not.
Just wait … and seek … and you will find one.
If there’s not one around you, create one. Even a small one.
For we are creative people designed to create …
And we are happiest when we are making something beautiful and meaningful.
It doesn’t have to be art with canvas and color and words per se.
We can create in so many ways …
In the way we explain things to children in class, or with the songs we sing to preschoolers …
Or with the unique blend of ingredients in the dishes we cook …
Or the smile and the flourish as we lay a plate on a table for restaurant patrons or family members at home.
Your life itself is a unique creation …
and I hope that you find joy as you find a creative community with whom to share it.