By Tema Banner
Writing is a solitary activity – as writers we have heard this and known it from the beginning of our journey. Outside influences provide the niggling of an idea that can not be displaced, and from this will grow a story that we hope and pray touches other hearts and lives, for the Glory of God and His kingdom. Research of some type is required whether the story is historical or contemporary, and this too, is a solitary activity. Then, there is plotting, and hours upon hours of writing, editing, writing, editing, writing, editing until finally, the story we dreamed of weeks, months or years ago is complete. There are days you face great doubt, wonder what the point of all your work is, will it ever see the light of day, will it make a difference. Despite these, you continue to plug away because you cannot not write. You may have periods when you have stopped, yet it is always there, in your mind, a constant seed that will not die.
Many years I wrote and was not part of a writing community, knew no other writers and, frankly did not know what I was doing other than attempting to write a historical inspirational romance novel. Becoming part of ACFW and getting to know other writers has made all the difference in my writing. I attended my first ACFW conference last year and it was a blessing, not because of the classes, although they were all awesome, but because of the Spirit of the Lord that was present amongst us. I had been to other secular conferences; they could not compare to what I gained being in contact with other Christian writers. Our goal is different, money and recognition are secondary to the impact we hope to have on the souls of humanity.
While writing may be a lonely career, there are many ways to bring your writing community into most aspects of the activities that it requires, even for introverts like me. You will soon discover that this enriches your writing and strengthens your resolve as you continue to work on your craft. Instead of researching on your own, go to the library with one or two of your writer friends, if they don’t have research to complete, they may write together, and being in a group encourages you. Does your research require travel to a specific area, perhaps a day trip or weekend getaway? Plan to go with other writer friends, in the evenings you can discuss how the information you’ve learned may be woven into your story, or you may have discovered how it changes your original story idea. No one better to be a sounding board than other writers.
Plotting – you either plan or you don’t, I am a planner and one of the most interesting workshops that I attended at the 2019 ACFW conference was how to have a group of writers with whom you plot. I have not yet found this community of writers for myself, but I am working on it because I think the input is invaluable. Understandably, this may take time to develop, personalities must be cohesive to work at this level of intensity. I have, however, attended a plotting workshop where you work on two-three of the attendees WIP and everyone in the group provides input. These are great activities to get the creative juices flowing and to be in a community that inspires and encourages. Putting your work out there may be intimidating, but it is necessary if the story you will eventually put out into the world is to be fully developed and pleasing to the reader.
Even the activity of writing and editing may be done within the community of writers and it is likely at this stage that most of us do reach out to the writer communities in which we are involved. We meet at coffee shops, libraries, and each other’s homes to write together. We schedule speedwriter events to compete against each other for the most word count, and we join critique groups or find critique partners to help with editing. ACFW offers Novel Track, which I recently joined, to encourage you on your monthly goals, they also have a critique loop available. Finding a critique partner, is again, something that may take some time, you want to feel confident and comfortable with each other; nevertheless, the importance of reaching out to other writers cannot be overstated.
This year has presented extra hurdles in our ability to meet, but I have found the Christian writer’s community has risen to the occasion, making conferences available online. Many of these are reasonably priced for those on a budget and while it is not quite the same as being in person, I encourage you to participate as you are able, you will be encouraged to continue your writing, given tools to improve, and make contact with others who understand what it means to have that writer seed planted in your heart.Becoming part of ACFW and getting to know other writers has made all the difference in my writing. Tema@THBanner #ACFWBlogs #writetips #ACFWCommunity #WritingCommunity Click To Tweet
Tema Banner is a member of the SC ACFW chapter as well as an active member of her local RWA chapter, Carolina Romance Writers. She has served as past President and Secretary as well as holding various chair positions. She is the honored recipient of the Harold Lowry Service Award, presented by the Carolina Romance Writers. God is her guiding light and the reason for every endeavor in her life. He has gifted her with a loving husband, two children (one here, one in heaven), and three grandchildren that are the delight of her life. In her spare time, she enjoys gardening.