Melanie Glinsmann

Writing my way through the cubicle jungle one day at a time

Six Reasons Creative Community Matters

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Let’s face it. Social media can be a pain. Selfies, people trying to enlist you in their multi-level marketing groups, and memes of every kind seem to rule the internet. And of course, there’s the occasional troll whose only mission for using social media is to criticize others.

But when used properly, social media can be a great way to connect with others in your field. This is especially true for creatives who are not yet able to work full-time on their craft. Sitting in a corporate office isn’t the most conducive environment to network with other writers, artists, and entrepreneurs. As a writer, I use social media to connect with other writers, both professionals already published and those who, like me, are at the beginning of their creative career.

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to meet in person with two fellow writers who live in the same city. We began corresponding over Twitter some time ago. When one suggested we get together, we all jumped at the chance to meet. We spent an hour talking about writing in general and our current projects.  We have also started making plans to meet once a month to continue sharing our writing journeys.

Many creatives, especially writers, embrace the idea of the secluded work space away from home and normal office spaces. Whether it’s a beach cottage rented for the summer, a minimalist office space in a downtown loft, or my personal favorite, a rustic cabin in the mountains, the dream of being able to get away from everyday distractions is appealing.

There’s a flip side to the seclusion myth, however. It’s one thing to seek solitude when actually working on your book, or whatever your creative outlet happens to be. Spending so much time working alone means you miss out on opportunities to learn from others.

As much as the idea of stealing away to a secluded spot appeals to creatives, it’s important to connect to others in your field. The actual work can only be done by the writer, artist, or musician. But in order to grow as a writer, artist, or musician, there are a number of reasons why building a creative community matters.

 

SHARE IDEAS

Creatives are often protective of their content until the work is ready to be released to the public. Sharing ideas doesn’t necessarily mean only talking about specific ideas of current projects. Sharing ideas also includes discussions on the general creative process, how each of you got started in your respective field, and goals for future projects.

 

GET TIPS

Making a living in the creative arts can be difficult, and at times discouraging. Having someone in your group who is a few steps ahead of you offers the opportunity to ask questions about navigating the ups and downs of making a living as a creative. Asking questions about your actual project, or more general questions like how to find freelance opportunities or monetizing a blog. For example, in the group I met with, one person already had a literary agent. I was able to ask questions about the agent process.

 

GET FEEDBACK

While using a creative community to provide critiques, getting feedback from others working in the same field is invaluable. Having family and friends provide feedback can be helpful, but often those closest to us are reluctant to be brutally honest. Critiques from those in your creative group offer a unique perspective other readers cannot provide. Since they have a better understanding of your field as a whole, and the ins-and-outs of the business side of creative pursuits, members of your creative community can provide more technical feedback.

 

ENCOURAGEMENT 

Being creative can be rewarding, but it can also be a roller coaster ride. Sometimes we need a little boost. The time and energy involved in writing a book, creating an album, or developing a teaching course takes a toll on a creative spirit. It’s helpful to have another person who understands the realities of creative life to talk to about your concerns.

 

RESOURCES 

With all the options for online courses, self-publishing, and the ability to create your own websites, technology should be a part of a creative platform. However, with so many options, figuring out which resources are the best fit for your needs can be tricky. With a creative community, you can find out what online resources others use to help them in the creative process. Ask your community about which websites or apps are their favorite. Find out about any online courses or blogs that have helped them.

 

SPREAD THE WORD

When your project is finally complete and ready to be sent out into the world, having a creative community can be a great way to share your work. Having others who are already familiar with your work, and in some cases, have had input in it, will be allies when it comes to spreading the word about your project. The more people who share your message, the more opportunities you have to make money from your hard work and connect with others in different creative communities.

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** Who’s in your creative community? What tips/lessons have you learned from others working in your same creative fields?

 

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