By Bronwyn Tilley (w/a Bronwyn Stuart)
I wanted to start this blog by pointing out the differences between writers who isolate themselves and writers who are isolated by geographic distance. Perhaps you love the solitary silence and find you do your best work that way but, by design, humans are social creatures and total isolation can seem unnatural to most. Perfect examples of reclusive authors include Thomas Pynchon, Cormac McCarthy and Edgar Allen Poe. It’s reported JD Salinger met with visitors holding a shotgun right after he had his photograph removed from books and marketing. The rise to fame made him uncomfortable and he did what he could to escape the spotlight. These authors isolated themselves by choice or circumstance.
It’s the authors who are isolated by remoteness that often lack the opportunities available in urban areas. Social media makes it easier to connect but nothing replaces that human face-to-face meet-up, having a coffee or lunch or even an accidental bump-in-to at the supermarket. I attend meetings once a month with my fellow romance writers and it energises and motivates me in ways nothing else can (or has so far).
There’s also the learning aspect to being a writer who is physically surrounded by other writers. If you live and play far away from other authors, how do you better your craft? How-to books? Podcasts? Online training?
Here are some tips I’ve learned along the way;
– Google hangouts and Skype can bring people together as long as you have a computer or phone and access to the internet.
– Make time for your craft the way you would if you went to the gym or the doctor. By setting aside time for an online chat every fortnight or month, you stay in contact and you can help hold each other to account with writing goals.
– Get a critique partner or writing buddy. This can be difficult if you’re a remote author but not impossible. Reach out to your local council or even Writers SA and find out if there is a writers group within cooee of your location and see if there are others who can’t make in-person meetings but could meet online.
– Start a Facebook group with the name of your town or region. If you build it, they will come. I found my writers group by doing a simple Google search.
– Apply for grants or funding to host a meet-up or weekend of learning. Once you’ve got your group up and running, see if there are any grants (see list below) you could apply for that will help bring your group together face-to-face. And then make time for it! You might get money for a speaker (city authors will come as long as you pay their fuel and put food in their bellies). Your local council might be able to host you at their library or chambers. Make some inquiries and see what happens!
Anyone who wants to write will write but you don’t have to do it alone. Not in this day and age. Not if you don’t want to. You might be the world’s most anxious introvert but so might the other people you make contact with. Don’t be scared. Be motivated and energised and discover how amazing it is to connect with like-minded people who love to do what you love to do.
Writers SA have some regional events coming up in the calendar across the Eyre Peninsula and Riverland from next month. With the assistance of the Australia Council for the Arts, we’re kicking off this *Writers and Readers in Residence series by sending author Jennifer Mills to Whyalla, Port Lincoln, Streaky Bay and Elliston. Officially Jennifer will be running a few workshops (see below for dates) and unofficially, she will be working in local areas like the library. She’ll be giving talks and connecting with readers and writers. If you’re interested in any of our events across these towns or a one-on-one with Jennifer, please email email@example.com and we’ll try to connect you or your writers group to our visiting author.
Jennifer Mills will be in Whyalla from the 8th May to the 18th.
Streaky Bay and Elliston 19th and 20th May.
Port Lincoln 21st May to 31st May.
These are just some of the grants available in Australia to groups and individuals by doing a simple Google search.
* This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body.