Social media guru and Writing Your Life class member Penney Fox did a presentation on blogging last week to the Orlando chapter of the Florida Writers Association. She brought the house down and gave great information about how we can use blogging to promote ourselves as authors and sell more books.

What struck me was the number of times she said that blogging is all about building relationships and creating a community, finding a group of people interested in the same topics who share their thoughts and insights. Whether we are blogging, worshipping, learning, dancing, writing or engaging in just about any other endeavor, success comes from joining forces with other like-minded people.

Those who have been around me have heard this story too many times to mention, but twist my arm. Okay, I’ll tell it once again. When I began teaching classes about writing life stories, I came before the group with great information, all the tools they needed to get busy putting words on paper. At the end of the six-week session, I proclaimed, “You now have what you need; go forth and write!”

Their answer, “When does the next class start? I want to sign up.”

“Huh?” I anticipated a second class, but I figured it would be with all new people who needed the basics I had just given this group. Now what was I going to do? I had to rethink my concept of what Writing Your Life was going to be.

Those original class members had it right, and I learned from them. Writing is about building a community, finding other people who have the same goals and interests and joining forces to do more together than we can do alone.

That first session was more than ten years ago, and now Writing Your Life is not a class or a business; it is group of people who are accomplishing amazing things with the encouragement, inspiration and support of others walking the same path.

Some members have been part of the Writing Your Life tribe for nearly as long as I’ve been teaching classes. I’d love to think it’s all about me, and I’m such a great teacher, they just can’t stay away. But what keeps them coming back is the sense of community, the kinship they feel with each other as they share their lives and their stories.

The Writing Your Life community is broad and wide, always open to new members and fellow travelers. If not our community, then find one that suits your needs. I know a few people who have written their life stories on their own, and they are to be commended. They have done what most cannot. More frequently, I meet people who have started and stopped writing many times during the last ten, twenty, thirty or more years and feel defeated. Don’t give up. Find others who can encourage you toward your goals.

So here’s a big thank you to Penney for reminding me of the importance of community and sharing such great insights on how we can extend our reach beyond our physical boundaries.

If you’d love to know more about blogging and are sorry you missed Penney’s talk, don’t be. Here’s an even better opportunity. Penney is conducting a workshop on the subject of blogging on Thursday, August 2nd from 10:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. at the University Club of Winter Park. The cost is only $25.  Click here to view a flyer about the workshop, or if you’d like to sign up online, click on Beyond the Book: How to Use a Blog to Market Your Book. I’ll be there. I hope you will be, too.

So, how important do you think being part of a writing community is? Are you a member of a writing community? What does it give you? What do you think makes up a good community? Add your thoughts to the comments below, and let’s start a conversation.

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