The Importance of Other Writers

Posted on 12th September, 2015

What kind of writer are you? Hermit or socialite? Is your writing a solitary occupation or do you seek out the company of other writers?


I used to be a hermit. Was this because I was a childhood writer? None of my friends wrote stories, so I grew up feeling it was normal to be the only one. As an adult, I carried on writing in isolation.


Then I went on a writers' holiday. During that week in beautiful Port Gaverne in Cornwall, I discovered the pleasure of being among other writers. After that, I looked for a writing group to join. My first attempt wasn't successful. The group was huge and I'm just not a huge-group sort of person.


My second group some time later was unsuccessful for different reasons. It was a much smaller group and the members made me welcome. Did it bother me that my arrival brought down the average age by some 40-plus years? Now sure, if I'm honest. I never really had time to find out, because the group met on weekday afternoons and, of course, I was at work then, so I could attend only by taking time off, which wasn't feasible long-term.


I went to some of the Writers' Holiday weeks, organised by Anne and Gerry Hobbs, when they were held at at Caerleon, and they were terrific. What I still admire about those weeks was that everyone was interested in everyone else's work. It didn't matter whether you were a bestselling author or a brand new writer, everyone was taken seriously. The atmosphere was friendly and supportive and the only thing wrong with those weeks was that they weren't fortnights.


This past twelve menoths I haven't been able to go on any writing courses. A family member has been in and out of hospital and we haven't been able to commit ourselves to anything. And I must admit, I'm getting fidgetty. I want to be back among other writers. Yes, I go to the monthly meetings of the Wirral & North Wales RNA Chapter and, yes, I have a lovely writing friend living locally and, yes, I have writing companions I met through NaNo and Twitter; but, as valuable as all these people are to me, I still feel the need for a few days away on a writing course/holiday/retreat... anything.


I have set my sights on the RNA Conference next summer and I'm hoping that the RNA friends I have made through Twitter will all be able to make the trek north to Lancaster. You see, I'm still not a huge-group person, but I'll feel a lot braver about it if I know some people beforehand.


So that's me - the ex-hermit. Which are you - hermit or socialite? Is the company of other writers important to you? Do virtual friendships fully answer that need or do you have to have real-life companionship too? And do tell me about courses/weekends/writing retreats you have been on - I can't go on any myself at present, so I'd love to enjoy them vicariously through your experiences!

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Comments (10)

I'm like you, Wendy. I'm never a group person, whatever the circumstances or occasion. I much prefer the company of just one or two. I'm glad you've got Tracy. I've got Kath and I couldn't do without her.
I might see you at Lancaster... Hurray! I usually hate groups but surprised myself by loving the RNA conference. I'm usually happier with just one or two people but everyone was so friendly. I don't belong to a writing group but have my writing buddy, Tracy. She's invaluable!
Oh, Jen, it would be wonderful if you came to Lancaster! Like you, I appreciate the virtual writing community, finding it informative and supportive, but there's nothing quite like the real thing, is there? A writing course or weekend or whatever is a source of great pleasure as well as being of professional importance. I hope you are able to join the Ottawa group before too long.
I'm more of a hermit writer, although by circumstance rather than choice. Like most of us, my life is busy and I have to carve out writing time when I can. I do enjoy writing groups and courses, although I haven't managed to attend many lately. Once I'm more settled in my new home, I intend to join the Ottawa chapter of RWA as I need a physical writing community, in addition to my virtual one.

I hope I'm able to come back to the UK for the Lancaster conference...fingers crossed!

Thanks for a blog post which made me think about the importance of a writing community, and how much I miss that at present as a result of the changes in my life in recent months.
You are quite right, Louise - everyone needs support. As a writer, you have to make an effort to go and find it, but it is well worth it when you do. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
Thank you for your lovely comments, Jan. I know exactly what you mean about feeling fired up at the end of a writing event. They just fill you with inspiration, don't they?

As for friends coming to Lancaster next year, you are one of the people I had in mind. I shall have my fingers crossed for you when the New Year strikes and all the potential NWS writers press 'send'!
I had never thought of writers getting together until I read this, but I suppose it can be a lonely existence. Also, you must enjoy being with people with the same interest and the same problems. Everyone needs support.
I've only been on day writing events since I finished the two courses at Cardiff university, Sue, but I always come back fired up to get back writing. I find my local writing buddy meetings invaluable as I'm not very good at writing in isolation. Perhaps if I was, I'd be further along with my novel! And, of course, you know how much I value my online writing friends...:-)
I was so pleased to read your comment about the conference next year. If I get in to the NWS, I really hope I can get to Lancaster and meet up. We'll give each other moral support!
Great post.
You raise some interesting points, Nicola. It isn't simply a matter of choice - there is also the question of opportunity. It sounds as though you are happy with the balance you have struck and I'm pleased about that. Thanks for visiting my blog again. Always good to hear from you.
I am a hermit writer. I can't say that is by choice but I am happy to be so. I think that is because other parts of my life are a lot more socialable. As a teacher, I get to meet lots of interesting people and fulfil the bubbly side of my nature and when I visit the UK I always meet up with writing friends. I think the key is to have a balance.