5. Community

Writing is mainly a solitary business, but I absolutely could not do it in a vacuum. Getting to know other writers has helped me understand how the business side of it works, and more importantly, it’s taught me that psychology matters to creativity. It’s taught me that other writers have the same brain-problems I have: imposter syndrome, hating one’s novel in the middle and despair are all perfectly normal, even common, for writers at all stages of their careers.

My critique partners have also taught me about craft and art. They’ve called me on my mistakes and inspired me to work harder.

Perhaps the most crucial thing community offers me is a daily rope to hold, when it comes to getting the work done. I work for myself at home now, and I have no water cooler or cubicle wall. I rely on internet connections – Twitter, forums, Slack channels – to give me a sense of connection to the wider world, and someone to vent at if I have to rewrite a chapter for the nth time.

Accountability buddies help me get work done. We challenge each other to write for 20 minutes or half an hour. Having someone to check in with makes a lot of difference to my day.

Not everyone has access to in-person writing community, but the internet is good for some things. If you’re searching for a critique partner or a writing buddy, social media can be a good place to look. Hashtags such as #amwriting or #1k1hour on Twitter connect writers to each other.

Exercise

Check in with someone and let them know how your writing is going this week. If you don’t have someone in your life already who fits this role, email me! I’m happy to hear about it. I’m at kateheartfield@gmail.com.

Quotation

“I’m trying to work largely through emotions. I’m just trying to say to readers: ‘Do you think this is how it feels? I think this is how it must feel, to be a person in this kind of situation – do you recognise this?’ And although it’s a modest ambition, I think it’s quite important that people communicate with each other at that level. To say: ‘I think this is what life is like – do you share these feelings? If I put it like this, do you feel those emotions as well?’” Kazuo Ishiguro, reported by The Telegraph.

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