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Harnessing the Power of Community

Humans are social creatures.

Even textbook introverts (like me) seek out and depend on interaction and support.

There’s a synergy that takes place when a group of likeminded people come together with a common interest or goal. It’s that whole Gestalt thing – the result is greater than the sum of its parts.

We can harness this power to accomplish things we previously thought impossible.

One great example of this is going on all around me right now: National Novel Writing Month. NaNoWriMo hopefuls commit to writing an entire novel during the month of November. That is, 50,000 words in 30 days.

NaNoWriMo started as a crazy dare among friends. But others soon heard about it and wanted in. While some of the less stable among us are motivated purely by the insane challenge, most find the community surrounding NaNoWriMo to be the best part.

We accept the challenge not only because it seems crazy, but because we want to be a part of the community doing the crazy, too.

Thousands of novels are written every year in 30 days, purely because of this community. It’s pretty amazing if you think about it. Especially when you consider that most of the participants have 1. never written a novel before and 2. probably wouldn’t have written one at all without the challenge and community.

I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo several times. I’m not doing it this year because I’ve got some big goals on their own tight deadlines. But I’ll definitely do it again.

Through NaNoWriMo, I’ve completed a novel in 30 days twice. Another year I participated by blogging 50,000 words in 30 days, which I found much easier than stringing together a coherent story in as much time.

I’ve organized “write-ins,” where a bunch of people who’ve met on the NaNoWriMo website get together locally to write at a cafe or diner. These write-ins are powerful events. Half a dozen or more people all hammering out endless words with the common goal of creating a work of fiction in a ridiculous amount of time.

Writing, by its very nature, is a solitary act. It can be isolating. The more prolific a writer is, the more time that writer spends alone. So write-ins and online community help to dissolve that feeling of being in creative Siberia.

We share war stories, encouragement, ideas, comic relief. And we celebrate our success together at the end in wrap-up parties.

I can honestly say I never would have written a novel in 30 days without the NaNoWriMo community.

There are other places in my life where I experience the same camaraderie and support. My scooter club, my Artist’s Way group (which I started through craigslist), the nutritarian forum I’m a part of online.

And especially, you folks. On the Journaling Saves Facebook page, in the comments, via email. The support of my tribe is essential to my survival.

Journal Prompts for Community

Where in your own life do you benefit from community? Here are some journal prompts for exploring the topic of community and how it can help you.

What community do you already have in your life that needs your nurturing to grow?

What amazing things could you accomplish in your life right now with the proper support? Does that community exist? If so, can you become a part of it? If not, can you create it?

What communities have you been a part of in the past that resonated with you? What about that community was so powerful? Was it the common goal? The individuals?

Journal on these for a few pages and see how important YOUR tribe is to your survival.

3 comments

  1. I’ve done NaNoWriMo several times. Failed miserably due to too many distractions and interruptions. Not participating this year, but almost certainly will attempt it again in the future.

  2. I have started NaNo a few times but never won. I have enjoyed finding online communities that inspire me for example a teaching forum I frequent and Twitter both through my education account and my kel_light account. Finding like minded people has been fantastic.

  3. I love that the internet makes finding community possible, no matter how niche your interests. Journaling is pretty niche, and there’s still a huge community online for it. Even if you’re into raising Rose-hair tarantulas, you can find a vibrant community to discuss your passion. Long live the interwebs. 🙂