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The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Writer

A few weeks ago, I thought it would be good to do a blog about how writers cope with working alone and over long distances. I had it all worked out in my head and then the world changed, but the blog still seemed relevant, perhaps more so than before.




Reach out and connect


I spent some quality social time with fellow writers the other day. About 7 hours in total, which is a new record for me, and I have to admit that I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. I mean, I never spend that much time with anyone if I can help it.


We all know that writing is mostly a solitary pursuit and that it’s important to make sure we still find ways to network and bounce ideas off each other. Thankfully, we live in a time when we can find hundreds and thousands of groups at the touch of a button and with a little searching, we can soon find a way to reach out and connect.



A whole new world


I started writing plays because my husband (a drama teacher) couldn’t find a short enough pantomime with a small enough cast for his class.


I started submitting plays to writing challenges and scratch nights because a friend who had seen the panto I wrote asked if I wanted to submit to her local theatre’s writing competition.


From there, a whole new world opened up for me and now I regularly share ideas, have a good moan and discover new opportunities along with writers from all over the world.


You could start by putting ‘scratch nights’ or ‘writing competitions’ into a search engine and having a browse through all the possibilities. For instance, London Playwrights send out a weekly email full of opportunities, Play Submission Helper send a monthly reminder of opportunities and I also joined the Playwriting UK Facebook Group. These three alone have provided me with a network of theatre companies and fellow writers so if a lazy technophobe like me can do it - anyone can!



Get out there and connect


This feeds wonderfully into my natural inclination to be an introvert but is not without its pitfalls. Obviously, we all know that in the virtual world it’s harder to make yourself stick to deadlines and easier to get distracted. Procrastination is the enemy of almost every writer (but more about that another day). Sharing your work with others is nerve-wracking and reading other people’s work can make you second-guess yourself and your abilities. Unfortunately, you can sometimes find that what looks like a supportive and welcoming community can unintentionally affect you badly. As with all things in the online world, take care of yourself, and find spaces in which you feel comfortable.

The main thing is that you try. Get out there and connect in a way that works for you. Whether that’s a weekly brainstorm in the local coffee shop, a monthly reading session down the pub or a virtual group where you can comment and share as and when you like, just as long as you do something to bring you into contact with other writers.



I’m not alone


The whole world is realising what us writers have always known – we function better when we interact with other people. I’m just thankful that we have the ability to do that from wherever we are, especially nowadays. It means that I got to spend time the other day with interesting, funny, kind and talented people. I learnt that I can be sociable for longer than I thought and appreciated the support and encouragement of my fellow writing community. But most of all I realised that I’m not alone… neither are you… and that’s more important now than it’s ever been.



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