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From the Blog: You Can’t Spell ‘Community’ Without U and I


In an era of unprecedented isolation even for those of us who find ourselves drawn to solitary occupations, Malaysia-based NaNoWriMo veteran Ali Gallo offers some sage advice about the possibility and importance of staying connected despite the obstacles. 

I thought I’d go with a particularly naff title to get your attention.

This time last year I wrote a blog about writers and the importance of community and I called it ‘The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Writer’ which was a much better title. At that point the world had just started down the slippery slope of Covid and the whole idea of building a community was something that we needed to think about because we were going to be stuck at home for a whole two weeks with (or without) our nearest and dearest.

A year down the line most of us are still in the same position and I’ve run out of clever and quirky titles to express how it feels to be a writer in these strange times. Over this year we’ve all become painfully aware of the importance of having a community not just to keep us motivated but for our mental well-being in these times of stress and uncertainty.

On the plus side, I have been more sociable this last year than ever before in my life. I’m part of various online writing groups that I can turn to when I want to share my writing or just have a good moan about life, the universe and everything. I have even been known to get up at 3am here in Malaysia to join a reading night Zoom with my playwriting group in the UK, and I haven’t been awake at that time for years—not since I was a teenager and dinosaurs roamed the earth.

Even for someone as unsociable as me, it’s become obvious that we need that human connection and to know we’re not alone. Writing can be a solitary pursuit at the best of times, and this is far from the best of times. This is why whether it’s a collective writing challenge or a group where you can swap ideas and critique work, we all need to be part of a community.

As humans we are naturally happier and healthier when we interact with others, and as writers we feed off people-watching and creative feedback, all of which are hard to come by at the moment.

The right community will support you, challenge you, and keep you motivated. They will be there to commiserate when you’ve had a bad day and your writing seems only fit to line the cat’s litter box with. They’ll also be there to celebrate when you get good news such as your book being published, your play being performed or even just that you completed your word count for the day. We all know it’s hard enough to sit down in front of that blank page or screen and create something new but without people in your corner it becomes almost impossible at times.

There’s also something remarkable about being part of a worldwide community of writers. I like that I can check in with my friends in America to see how their writing day went or is going and I make sure to check my emails and messages when I wake up to see what my UK writing group has to say about things.

Having said that, I am just getting to know a local writing group here in Malaysia, which is small and very much locally-based but no less supportive or encouraging.

You just have to find what works for you, what you’re comfortable with, and what makes you feel supported and valued.

Community is important to everybody and this year has proved that beyond a doubt; I’m not alone, and neither are you – remember that. I hope that whatever and wherever your community is, it is your happy place. I hope there’s just enough critique, support, and friendship to fuel your imagination and keep you coming back for more.


Originally from Scotland, Ali lived in Africa and now Malaysia – which has taught her that reliable internet, electricity, and good cheese are luxuries not to be taken for granted. She writes blogs, plays, short stories, and shopping lists but not necessarily in that order. With a trilogy of novellas on Amazon (thanks to NaNoWriMo and a family that leaves her in peace to write) she is currently working on her first full-length book when not distracted by shiny objects. You can read more from Ali on her blog, Love the Sky Ur Under!

Top image licensed under Creative Commons from United Nations (artist: Catherine Cordasco) on Unsplash.

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