The Value of Community

This weekend I spent a day ensconced in a fabulous Malibu ranch surrounded by fellow writers. Everyone pitched ideas and gave input on one others’ projects, whether they were fleshed-out series or feature scripts or just an inkling of a concept. I loved seeing the energy zing around the small group as insightful questions were posed and idea built on idea.

There is something so powerful about creative minds coming together. Writing can be such a solitary pursuit that building a community of writers is a tricky thing. Let’s face it, we writers can be prickly about getting feedback when this thing we’ve just poured our hearts into gets shredded by well-meaning opinions. Trust is fragile and so important to nurture when you find people whose input you value and respect.

As I sat there in the lazy Sunday sun, it dawned on me: this is part of what makes our Italy retreats so valuable. It’s a space of trust and good taste (at least where story is concerned!). It’s a space where questions get asked and we work together on the answers. It’s a space where writers can get the instruction they need to sharpen their skills, or the space they need to escape and create.

Everyone left the Sunday gathering with their projects bettered, and further along their creative paths than they had started. “Now imagine this level of forward movement, but for two weeks straight. And in Italy!” I couldn’t resist exclaiming. I’m hopeful one or two of my new Malibu friends may join us in Orvieto this year. Either way, I’m looking forward to that kind of space, both literal and creative, to move writing forward.

About heidihornbacher

A graduate of UCLA’s screenwriting program, Heidi has written numerous features, treatments, and TV pilots for various independent producers. She’s judged for the Slamdance Film Festival screenwriting contest and co-founded the Slamdance Script Clinic. She and her husband founded PageCraft Writing in 2008 offering script coaching and writing retreats in LA and Italy. Her clients have gone on to find representation, win contests, and become working writers. Heidi has written, directed, and produced numerous commercials, music videos, and electronic press kits for various artists. She’s currently making a documentary film about British artist Paul Whitehead.
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