4 Benefits of Being in Community for Creatives
There’s nothing quite so isolating as working from home. For many creatives, much of their best work is done alone. That said, no one is an island. Here are 4 reasons to consider joining a co-working space or starting your own creative circle.
1 – Entering into Community
Being with other people is innate to humanity. We need each other! Community brings with it a sense of trust and belonging. In community, we have the opportunity to draw upon the gifts of others and also to build into others. The best communities are diverse. They are multigenerational, multicultural, respect different points of view and serve as a robust platform for collaboration and connection.
For writers living in New York City, Paragraph helps to meet this need. Located in Manhattan’s Flatiron District, Paragraph is a co-working space for serious writers. Once you get to the top of the stairs, you’ll find a hall full of lockers, a kitchen (complete with a candy dish), restroom and artifacts related to their members. You can speak in that area (quietly, mind you). That said, once you enter through the door with the glass knob, dozens of workstations await you as well as silence so thick you could hear a pin drop. It has everything a writer needs.
2 – Connecting with Like Minds
There is a quote from C.S. Lewis’ book The Four Loves that says “Friendship … is born at the moment when one man says to another ‘What! You too? I thought that no one but myself.’”
When you find other people to whom you relate, it is so refreshing. To find common ground with another person is the very start of friendship. C.S. Lewis himself was part of a community called The Inklings. Lewis, along with J.R.R. Tolkien, Hugo Dyson and Owen Barfield to name a few got together regularly to review each other’s work and be a safe place to explore ideas. Inklings meetings usually took place on Thursday evenings in Lewis’ office at Magdalen College on the glorious grounds of Oxford University. Keeping to a regular schedule for decades resulted in professional accountability, a creative sounding board for Inklings members and lifelong friendships as in the case of Lewis, Dyson, Tolkien and Barfield.
3 – Avoiding Professional Loneliness
Writing, painting and envisioning are generally solitary activities. It takes time and silence to create. When you’re not creating though, you need to fuel your creativity. One way to do that is to connect with the outside world and with other people in some meaningful way. Antony Hare, an artist whose work is published in The New Yorker among other publications, experienced a period of time in his life that he called professional loneliness. During this period, Hare had disconnected himself from the world around him and found that he needed to reach back out.
If you find that you’re turning down opportunities to meet with others or be part of community, now is the time to change that. Find a group of people, or even just one person, that you can connect with who encourages you. Tapping into a community calendar and selecting events you want to attend is a great first step.
4 – Staving off the Doldrums
Do you have a steady stream of inspiration? What happens when you hit a block? Another benefit of involving yourself in a community of creatives is that there is never a dull moment. Being in a different work environment or with an eclectic mix of people can’t help but get the creative juices flowing. Something I do regularly is pick up books or magazines that I wouldn’t normally read. I also scroll through Twitter or Pinterest for ideas and inspiration. Going to museums, coffee shops or people watching can also stimulate new ideas and forge connections you would not have had otherwise.
As Starbuck’s CEO Howard Schultz would say, coffee is theatre. The next time you’re sitting down for a vanilla latte, take in the excitement and adventure around you, finding elements you can make all your own.
So, are you ready to make the leap to join a community of creatives? Are you already part of one?
Comment and let me know!