Over ten years ago, I reluctantly went along to a writing group meeting, persuaded by my partner and not planning to go more than once. But that writing group was the reason I ever managed to finish my novel, and now they’re a solid group of friends who continue to make me a better writer. We all lived in London at that time, and used to meet fortnightly. Now that all but one of us has moved away, it’s been difficult to figure out how we can continue to benefit from writing meet-ups, but, thanks to the power of technology, we’re slowly falling into a pattern of monthly video meetings. Having those regular sessions is the reason I need to make sure my own personal projects still get time devoted to them.
The power of having another person – or group of people – know your goals is an incredible motivator. Being accountable for the things that no one’s making me do, that no one’s paying me to do, is exactly what I need to feel I can carve out the time for my own projects. In the case of The Family Tree, it’s being part of a team and having a listenership; in the case of my flash fiction collection, it’s having my writing group there to remind me that there’s a thing I’m supposed to be doing and that I’m doing it because I want to.
Writing is a solitary pursuit, and for me at the moment, it can be difficult to prioritise personal projects while I’m trying to kick-start a new career. Having my writing friends to hold me accountable is going to be an essential part of the process, and I’m endlessly thankful for that first evening that I never wanted to attend all those years ago.