Beating Writerly Isolation

As I said in last week’s post about writing and mental health, isolation is a big problem for writers. It’s easier to find support at the beginning of your career. Writers groups and creative writing classes are a natural home for emerging writers. But when you publish a book, you move on to the next phase of your career, and it becomes harder to find a community to support you.

A lot of writers are quite self contained and happy to work alone. But I find I need outside stimulus. It gives me huge inspiration. I’ve done my time in writing classes and groups, but I felt myself growing beyond them. Not because I had delusions of genius, but because my reasons for writing were different from a lot of my class and group mates.

I want to be a published writer, for the rest of my life. And I needed to connect with people who shared that goal. With the publication of my book, I can’t really say I’m an emerging writer, but I’m not quite an established writer either. I wanted to find writers who were also at that in-between stage.

I’ve met plenty of writers online over the last year and it’s been great, but I like being out in the real world, meeting real people. So once a month I have excellent coffee and really excellent conversation with two writers who are at a similar stage to me, with similar goals.

Orla Shanaghy has achieved the Holy Grail of getting to read on RTE Radio 1’s Sunday Miscellany and has been shortlisted in a couple of big-name competitions, like the William Trevor Competition and the Fish Competition.

Derek Flynn’s  first novel is on the point of being picked up by a publisher. He’s had several nibbles already. He’s also a musician, with two albums under his belt.

Orla Shanaghy, Derek Flynn and I with self publishing expert Catherine Ryan Howard at our social media panel during Waterford Writer's Weekend.
Orla Shanaghy, Derek Flynn and I with self publishing expert Catherine Ryan Howard at our social media panel during Waterford Writer’s Weekend.

















We share the trials and the triumphs of our writing lives: the rejections, the acceptances, the writers’ block. They allow me to indulge in epic whinges, for which I am eternally grateful. I really appreciate Orla’s sharp, insightful critique, and I’m being slowly converted to Twitter by Derek’s enthusiasm. Their perspectives have strengthened my work, and reassure me that I’m not mad to want to continue to be a writer in the face of what can seem like never-ending obstacles.

But it isn’t just a talking shop. We critique each other’s work, point each other to useful resources and concoct schemes to take over the world through social media. As a result of our collaboration, we’ve had the opportunity to take part in a social media panel during Waterford Writer’s Weekend, which is likely to lead to further social media workshops in the future. And most important of all, there’s the writing. We give each other rigorous but supportive critique. With all of this, we’re helping each other to reach the vaulted plains of established writerdom.



6 thoughts on “Beating Writerly Isolation

  1. I’m in that in-between stage with my soon-to-be-pubbed book. I’m with a writer’s group, but I never attend the critique sessions because I have nothing for them to critique, really. I might have them critique 500 words of my newest manuscript (when revised), but I have a system that works. I do attend the write-ins though because it’s very motivational to hang around other writers and just write and talk with one another about our writing and our lives. But I am at a completely different stage than they are. They’re worried about finishing their books, and I’m worried about selling mine (but I do have a wonderful contract manager willing to go the mile for me–well, practical publicist. It’s an interesting set-up with AEC Stellar Publishing).

    I guess I just need to find writers at the same stage as I am. I just don’t know where to find them though because as far as I know in regards to my uni’s creative writing program, I’m the only young writer with a book about to be published, and the advice the creative writing groups give there is how to be published. Don’t need that anymore. But I am a social bug and so am just wondering what to do. What to do.


    1. Hi Amber. You raise some very valid points. You go beyond what traditional groups can offer you. I don’t quite know what to tell you about finding groups. Really, online is a good place to start, finding forums and groups on Faceebook or LinkedIn where there’ll be like minded souls. You do also sometimes get people in writers’ groups who have already published, or who at least are good and rigorous, so you could consider that too.


      1. I’ve met plenty online. I just want to get out there and meet published people. There’s one girl in my writer’s group who has published, but she never attends. I’ve been dying to meet her, but nothing so far. I dunno. I’m hoping that maybe once I’m back in school and attending writerly functions that I’ll catch a bite eventually.


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