Ditch the Garret

Writing is a solitary activity, or so you’d think. Certainly, when I began to write fiction I did it alone and now that I’ve been at it a while, the majority of the putting words on paper and the fiddling around with them to make them work has to be done as far away from other people and distractions as possible.

But what I didn’t realise, and no one told me, was how much pleasure and support and constructive input I would get from communicating with other writers and just how fabulous the community of writers is.

There’s the writers’ group I belong to, Dumfries Writers. When I joined the group I was unsure about my fiction, didn’t know whether it was any good and rarely gave a thought to pushing the boundaries of the writing projects I was involved with. The group gave me the confidence to move on from secret writing in my spare time and made me think of writing as something you need to practise, as you do a musical instrument.

My fabulous fellow Paisley Piranhas galvanised me into self-publishing my first young adult novel, what they don’t tell you about love in the movies, and going through the self-publishing process with the support of the group has been a lifesaver. We share ideas and information, moan to each other and celebrate successes. I can’t imagine how anyone does it alone.

Then there’s the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). I’ve not long joined them but I love the blogs and articles the Scoobies share, the constant flow of useful information on Facebook and the joy of chatting to fellow YA writers at the Edinburgh crit group.

There’s more. There’s Twitter and writers’ blogs and conferences and book festivals. In fact, there’s so much going on around the writing that occasionally you do feel the need to step back and check that you’ve left enough time to let your own creative endeavour flourish. Back to the garret for a while…

Claire Watts 

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