Posted by: main street writers | November 13, 2011

Comments on the Writing Life – a Trilogy: Part Three:

 Comments on the Writing Life … Part Three

–  Making life a little bit better, a little more often  –


In the weekly workshops, I try to carve out 5 or 6 minutes for Comments on the Writing Life.  These conversations often center around the writing practice: what starts, what stops – and what helps us return to – writing. 

Over time, I’ve come to think of the Writing Life in three spheres:

(1)  the Internal Desire to write;

(2)  habits and structures that support this desire – which is to say a Writing Practice; and

(3)  a community of people – writers and others – who help us sustain this practice: a Community of Practice.

It’s kind of like Russian nesting dolls. That first sphere, the one in the middle,  is a person.  You.  The second and third spheres are the people and resources that surround and support your writing. 

You can find posts about first two spheres here:

Part One: Creativity is a Gift. Everyone Has It.

Part Two: Practicing Trust

And you can read about the third sphere …right here.   There’s a question at the end – fictional and improbable answers highly encouraged.    Enjoy!     — Kathy

Who Cares?

Who cares about your writing? That’s an important question. If life with writing in it is better than life without it, then you care, for one.

And people who like to write tend to cross paths with other people who like to write. If you’re sharing your writing with someone, it’s a good bet they care about your writing, as well.

In fact, as you build a habit of writing, you will probably discover a number of people who are happy to see you learning and growing and writing.

But Wait…

As for discouragers… well, there are plenty.  And as quick as they are to pile new doubts atop the mountain you’ve already heard – they also serve to deepen your appreciation for the kind souls who offer you encouragement and  support.

Mapmaker, Mapmaker, Make Me a Map…

Who encourages you to write? A friend, another writer…? Perhaps you’ve found a workshop, or a mentor. Maybe you’ve found a librarian whose love of books extends to writers. What about that neighbor who likes to carve – he understands the creative urge.  Or the cousin who asks about your writing whenever you cross paths.

Imagine a map that looks like a bulls-eye target.  Put yourself at the center.  In the expanding circles, write the names of people and situations that incline you to write.  Place the biggest influences close to the center, and, further out, those that help indirectly.

Who would be in the first circle, encouraging and helping you?  Who would be in the second circle, inspiring you or showing you new possibilities?

Who or what might be in the outer circles…? Are there programs at your library; is there a writers guild in your area? Does a local bookstore offer workshops or readings? Who is the Poet Laureate in your region or state – or country – and what are they doing to encourage writers and writing? There’s always the radio, with programs like Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac.

How about retreat centers… conferences? We are surrounded by authors and artists and films. Which ones do you like? They belong on your map.

A Community of Practice

Think of the resources in these circles as points of light.  They form the constellation of people who like to see you writing.  They are your Community of Practice.

What do you do with this Community?

1. Map it out, so you can see who’s in it.

2. Enjoy their help.

3. Thank them.


Turn around and help someone else. It doesn’t take much to nurture a kindred spirit.  Who could you encourage?

A child, a friend, the cashier at the grocery story who likes to write poetry.  Writer, artist, dancer, cook, teacher: anyone who is doing something they love to do, for pay or for love alone, is following that creative urge.

Encourage someone. Ask them what they love to do: listen deeply and respond generously.  When you help someone else, you become part of their Community of Practice.

Now imagine a whole network of Communities of Practice.   – That’s something to write home about…!


If you could add one person, place, or event to your Community of Practice… who or what would it be?

And, as I said at the start – fictional and improbable answers highly encouraged…!


Comments on the Writing Life:

Part One – Creativity is a Gift. Everyone Has It.

Part Two – Practicing Trust



  1. […] Part Three: Building Community […]

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