I can’t imagine doing life without community. I have a very strong family, my parents and most of my siblings are very close by, and they support me tremendously with parenting and encouraging me. I have a very tight network of friends and faith that keep me inspired, grounded, and challenge me to be more.
So when I started writing and illustrating again in 2016, I realized that I needed a creative community around me for all the same reasons; to encourage me, inspire, keep me grounded, and motivate me to continually improve.
After doing research and finding a few local networks, everything kept pointing me to the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. I was hesitant to pay the fee, mainly because I hate spending money on myself (typical mom- I am working on this!).
Benefits of joining a community like this include insider tips and resources, like a directory of literary agents and publishers. But the major perk for me was finding other members in my area.
I was able to join two regional groups, and connect with an even more local group. I found critique partners. I was able to meet in person, one-on-one, with other authors and get mentoring.
You see, my intention in finding community was solely to learn from others and make relationships. I think many of us approach community for the sake of networking, in others words, to get connections, leverage, or even opportunities that lead to financial gain. Instead, we don’t think about what we have to offer the community.
I found that many of the authors WANTED to share their experiences, they enjoyed being asked and listened to. They likewise valued my opinion as an outsider on marketing, finding your audience, and particularly social media (which none of us can seem to figure out).
The only advice I have to offer on finding a creative community is this:
- YOU NEED COMMUNITY to keep you encouraged, motivated, inspired, grounded, and growing.
- Think about what YOU HAVE TO OFFER the community, not just what it has to offer you.
- Stop networking for the sake of connections, leverage, and money. Build community for the SAKE OF RELATIONSHIPS.