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My webinar last week was about the relationship between writing and community. One of the great ironies of the writing life is that you sit alone every day to do work that you hope will connect with the very people you have sequestered yourself from. I don’t care how introverted you are: you write because you hope to connect. 

Eleven months ago I started a membership I called Field Notes for Writers. I thought of it as primarily a library of teaching resources and helps for writers. I soon realized, however, that the biggest benefit of that membership might come not from writing instruction, but from the community of writers. A library of great content created a place and a reason for writers to gather, but the gathering turned out to be be as important as the content. My job, I realized, was to be a host as much as it was to be an expert. 

I have loved sending out these letters every Tuesday, and I have heard from many of you that they have been good to you. But these weekly letters don’t do much to connect you readers with one another. And as proud as I have been of The Habit Podcast (by the way, you’re going to love the guests I have coming up), the podcast doesn’t build community among its listeners either. Over at Field Notes we have made some progress toward community-building, but the platform I’ve been using is geared toward content-delivery rather than ease of interaction among participants. 

So I decided to build a new membership site from the ground up—one that is easier to navigate, more inviting, and more conducive to community. While I was at it, I rebranded it as The Habit Membership (this newsletter, formerly just called The Habit, is now called The Habit Weekly).

The content library from Field Notes is still intact at The Habit Membership and still growing (hopefully growing faster, now that my energies are no longer consumed with building out a website). Members still have access to Grammar for Writers, a 42-lesson deep-dive into English grammar designed to help writers analyze their own writing, diagnose writing problems, and write better sentences. (Here’s the trailer.)

Most exciting is the new, robust forum area where members discuss writing issues, respond to writing prompts, give each other feedback, participate in book club discussions, and generally spur one another on and give one another just a little more courage. Field Notes members were imported into The Habit Membership last week, and they have already lit the place up with lively discussion. My heart has grown two sizes already.


A Special Offer for Habit Weekly Subscribers

From now through September 17, newsletter subscribers can join The Habit Membership at the old Field Notes price: $11.95/month or $119/year. That’s what you’ll pay as long as you remain a member.

After September 17, however, I will open things up to the wider world, and the price will go up to $14.95 a month or $149 per year for anyone who signs up after that point. 

I hope you’ll take a few minutes to find out more about what’s on offer in The Habit Membership.

Check out The Habit Membership

In an earlier Tuesday letter I wrote about the difference between a hierarchical approach to work and a territorial approach. Hierarchical thinking comes all too naturally to us: we want to know how we rank, so we devote valuable mental energy to comparison. That turns out not to be a good use of our energy.

A member of The Habit Membership wrote, 

For a long time what held me back from writing seriously was that there are so many people who could do it better than me. But recently I’ve taken up a different mindset, one that focuses more on just getting in the game and loving it, just like people do when they train for a marathon, knowing they might never be the best but they have a chance of finishing if they put in the hard work and discipline.

That’s exactly right. (Now I’m quoting myself, from that earlier Tuesday letter): 

Writing, like running, requires discipline and work and a willingness to do hard things when a thousand easier things present themselves. But the goal of all of that work and discipline is to get better, not to get better THAN. Other writers are your allies, not your adversaries. Their excellence can inspire you, it can teach you, it can give you good ideas. But there is no reason it should discourage you…

If you’re a writer, forget about your place in the hierarchy. You don’t have a place in the hierarchy because there is no hierarchy in any meaningful sense. What you have is a territory—a little patch of ground that is yours to cultivate. Your patch of ground is your unique combination of experiences and perspective and voice and loves and longings and community. Tend that patch of ground. Work hard. Be disciplined. Get better. Your patch of ground and your community are worth it.

That’s the spirit of The Habit Membership. There’s no hierarchy. There are just a bunch of people tending their little patches of ground, allies in the work of telling the truth with beauty and grace.

I hope you’ll be a part of it.

Check out The Habit Membership

Upcoming Events

September 19
Webinar: Making Academic Writing Less Academic (Free) More information.

September 16-October 11
Four-Week Online Fiction Workshop (Members of The Habit save 10%)
More information

October 10
Mystery and Manners: A One-Day Writing Seminar in Nashville (Members of The Habit save 10%) More information.
This Week on The Habit Podcast
Dr. Jessica Hooten Wilson, Associate Professor of English at John Brown University, is currently preparing the unfinished manuscript of Flannery O'Connor's last novel for publication. In this episode, Jonathan and Jessica geek out about Flannery O'Connor, exchange strategies for balancing academic writing and fiction, and discuss how reading poetry has made Jessica a better writer. 
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