Connected: Writing in Community

Writing is not a solo act.

There may just be one name listed as the author, but many more people are involved in the process.

The best writing comes out of an understanding that we live in community with others. I know my scribbles have been influenced by much greater authors whom I’ve read time and again. The most effective illustrations I’ve used come from living life with my family and friends. The most profound truths I’ve encountered and shared are also not original. They come from a work God has done through my heart, soul and mind.

As I continue to read through previous posts, I’ve seen these connections over and over. In these observations, I’ve also been reminded of a simple truth. My writing is influenced by the lives I engage, and my writing influences others who are willing to engage me.

Writing is not a solo act.

I wouldn’t even take the time to write had words never had an influence on my life. But I also need to take care that influence does not overtake relaying the message.

Perhaps this is a downfall among leadership gurus today. Leaders can make much of influence without healthy concern for connection. Influence without relationship really moves toward manipulation and abuse of power.

The same can be true of writers. Words have a powerful way of connecting with people. Knowing this, we can make much of building a platform for influence people with words and lose sight of the purpose for our writing — connecting with our readers. The result is an abuse of our readers’ time and engagement.

I’ve determined to take time reflecting on the what and why of my connecting. As I continue to evaluate, I’ve developed a working statement to keep in mind.

Great writers are conduits of great messages. 

As a writer, I receive a great message that I put into my own words for understanding and share with others. I am not the beginning. I am not the end. I am a conduit. 

So how am I conducting?

  • Is the message I am transmitting something that has changed my life? Many times my writing is a way to understand what I think I’ve learned. But if I still haven’t understood it, perhaps I need to take more time to rewrite, edit, and process the message. This will also help me ensure that the way I’m transmitting the message is relevant in this time and culture.
  • Is my purpose for transmitting the message to change other people’s lives (influence) or to share my life (connecting)? Now, we do hope our writing makes a difference to our readers, but the motivation behind it will drive the quality and effectiveness of our message. If we seek first to connect, we will influence in a profound way. If we seek first to influence, we will come across loud, proud and distant.
  • Am I creating space for community to continue? So many great messages are lost because there is not space for processing it within community. It may take readers a while to begin engaging in comments and forums, but it’s important to give the opportunity. If the message is worthwhile, we should desire to see it live on well beyond our years.

Personally, the greatest message I’ve received has been the gospel of Jesus Christ. I’ve committed my life to a deepening understand of this message through life experience, conversations, and reflections on Scriptures and other works.

It’s a message worthy of sharing, and the best way for me to share it is by taking my relationship with the Author and connecting it to my relationship with my readers. In the end, my motivation to connect opens the opportunity for the Author to influence my readers in an incredibly profound way.

I may be the one writing the words, but I’m not alone. I’m writing in community.


What are some helpful ways for you to remember that you are a conduit of a great message? Please take some time to comment or share insights with others by commenting below.


6 Responses to “Connected: Writing in Community”
  1. I like your comment about taking time to review and edit our message if we still haven’t fully processed our thoughts or understood our experience. I’m pretty hot or cold on this–either I get the urge to write and then publish it right away, or I let it languish, hidden forever because I have a hard time making myself truly process my thoughts.

    I’m not much for thinking I influence people. I figure everyone else has already been there and done that, if you will. But it is nice to connect. I like messageboards better than blogs because I feel like there’s a much better chance of conversation on a messageboard. Or do you think you get good responses from blogs?

    • Thanks for sharing! I haven’t really done as much with messageboards, so I can’t do an honest comparison. However, it doesn’t seem to come easy to create a conversation on a blog. Now, I follow blogs who do an awesome job of running a conversation. So, my working theory is that much depends on the conversational tone of writing and easy opportunity for comments/conversation to continue. I’m still learning, though!

      • I see blogs with a lot of conversation; those are usually by famous people, however. I’m sure you are better about gathering a following than I am, but I know my blog doesn’t get read often. (That has nothing to do with the fact that I don’t *write* there that often. Ahem. 😉 ) It’s a vicious circle, though. I don’t write that often on my blog because I write all of the time on my messageboards. With the messageboards, I at least have a built in audience of people who are kind enough to actually comment on my thoughts. 🙂 I like the relative privacy of messageboards, too.

        You’ve been working hard at the blogging thing, so I’m sure it will keep getting better with regards to creating opportunities for conversations. 🙂

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