Writing alone vs writing communities
I’ve been writing for two decades now, initially for myself and in recent years for publication – essays, articles, short stories and even two novels. And I still ask myself the same question as I did when I just started out: is it better to spend all my writing time alone, to be more productive and get more done – or spend some of it with other writers?
Writers are not like normal people, those who know me may have noticed that. Writers usually have opinions, and are not shy about expressing them. They talk to their imaginary characters, often feeling more comfortable with them than with real-life people. They have moods. They drink lots of coffee. And the occasional glass of wine, or two.
Writers are drawn to other writers, as they know what it takes to get something published – not only sweat, blood and tears – but endless hours of writing, re-writing, editing and re-editing. And so, when writers get together, they often moan about writing. They share their insecurities, failures – and successes. And after long days of writing workshops or critiquing, they usually end up in a bar. And so, after six years of solitary writing, with three published books to show for it, I decided to go back to my original writing community, where it all started. This is the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School in Derbyshire, UK, where I arrived some fifteen years back with one little article published in one little newspaper. That is where several people – mostly experienced writers, mostly now gone from this world into the next – had welcomed me with open arms and helpful advice. That is where I learned that a glass of red can helps a story flow, and a cup of tea with a friend – discussing writing, of course – can save hours of rewriting. This is the community that supported me when I had my first book event in London, and through which I hooked up with a publisher.
I’ll see if I am ready to be back in a writing community, after years of doing it alone – and if I can offer the same welcome to debut writers, as was offered to me all these years ago. And I will keep you posted…