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Creativity coach, writing and creative process instructor, speaker, author of Around the Writer's Block: Using Brain Science to Write the Way You Want (Penguin/Tarcher 2012) and Dancing in the Dragon's Den (Red Wheel Weiser), Teaching Artist at the Loft Literary Center.

The Company You Keep


By Rosanne Bane

It matters what company you keep. You’ve probably heard about the research that shows that if your friends are overweight, you’re over 50% more likely to be overweight yourself. I’m convinced that being part of an effective writer’s group is a great benefit and that being part of a dysfunctional or ineffective writer’s community is worse than being alone.

writers groupWhere and how do you connect with other writers? Are you part of a writing group or a larger writer’s community? Do you connect with other writers at readings or in classes? Or collaborate on writing projects? Do you tap into what other writers are thinking and doing from magazines? Blogs? Twitter or other social networking? What percentage of your connections with other writers are in-person and what percentage are electronic or remote?

How do you feel and what do you think after your contact with your writing colleagues? Consider the effect of each group separately.

Are you enthusiastic, engaged and excited about your writing? Are you motivated and eager to get back to your writing? Or are you left with a vague sense of dissatisfaction and discouragement?

writing collaboratorsDo you have new ideas, perspectives and strategies? Or is your thinking unchanged?

Are you optimistic, if not about publishing as a whole, at least about your ability to respond to the changes and challenges you face? Or are you thinking publishing is headed in the wrong direction and there’s little you can do about it? Or even convinced that publishing is doomed and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it?

Does the group have clear purpose and goals? How much do the group’s purpose and goals align with your writing purpose and goals? Do you have an increased sense that being a writer is worthwhile and that your writing is a valuable contribution to your community?

Most importantly, what do you do after connecting with other writers? What actions do you take? What challenge are you more likely to embrace? What risk are you less likely to take? Is the time you spend with other writers (in-person or electronically) worth the time you’re not focused and acting on your own writing projects?

I’ll let you ponder those questions awhile. I hope you’ll then be motivated and encouraged to get back to your writing. In my next post, we’ll take a look what “mirror neurons” are (hint: they’re your “monkey see, monkey do neurons”) and how they fit into this idea that the company you keep is crucial to your emotions and behavior.

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