Regularly spending time with people who share my desire to create stories is one of the most valuable aspects of my fiction writing journey so far.
Armed with advice from a number of websites, text books and writing courses that recommend aspiring authors find ways to mix with other aspiring authors, I have attended writing festivals, book launches, author talks and other literary events in the last couple of years.
I’ve also become actively involved in a community-based writing centre in the suburb in which I live. And it has been enormously beneficial.
Rockingham Writers Centre was established in April 2015, as a place where people with a passion for writing in its many shapes and forms get together to socialise, network, share ideas, hone their craft and spend time writing in the company of other writers.
The volunteer-run centre presents monthly meetings for beginner and advanced writers, poets, and those keen to write children’s books or short stories. It hosts professional development courses and workshops, plus book fairs, where local writers have peddled their works, and in September hosted the inaugural, one-day Rockingham Writers’ Convention, to great accolades.
For me, talking with others who are taking steps to achieve their writing goals provides inspiration, a sense of common purpose and, most importantly, hope – hope that their successes may one day be my own; and hope that my experiences may help them with their writing.
I suspect that for my family and friends, the fact that I’m talking to other people about what I’ve written or what I want to write provides much-needed respite from my novel-writing obsession.
In moments of self-doubt, hearing how other people have pushed beyond writer’s block, achieved a breakthrough in their research, or overcome a seemingly insurmountable structural obstacle can be invigorating and motivational.
Members of the group who are already published – whether traditionally, through self-publishing, or online – are willing to help the rest of us to benefit from the lessons they’ve learned, and to avoid pitfalls.
And those like me, with expertise and experience in media, marketing and editing, have been able to offer advice and direction, with the ultimate goal of helping writers find readers and buyers for their books.
Right across Australia, community based writing groups offer similar services, facilities and opportunities. But if there isn’t one in your neighbourhood, consider taking a leaf out of my book – and get involved in establishing your own.
A version of this post was originally published as The Neophyte Novelist column in Good Reading.