The Importance of Writerly Friends

The importance of writerly friends – a joint post by Detty Tyler and Ellie Gray



Rugged beauty atop Filey cliffs

What a fabulous weekend! A perfect mix of all things writerly – planning, discussing, editing, reading and, of course, writing. Having used a precious day of annual leave, we headed off on what has become our annual writerly weekend away.  Armed with our laptops, notebooks and a variety of coloured pencils, we made our way to the glamorous resort of Filey, where we had booked ourselves a fabulous little cottage just five minutes’ walk from the stunning clifftop landscape of East Yorkshire, and with an onsite pool, sauna and steam room, no less! Oh, we like to do things in style.

And so began three fabulously indulgent days of discussing our writing, worrying about our writing, reading each other’s writing and even…dududuhhhh…writing!

Of course, this was helped along with much needed sustenance in the form of delicacies such as cheese and biscuits, Mediterranean platters and crusty bread followed by lovely little decadent cakes we wouldn’t normally buy (honest!). It goes without saying that there was a little partaking of wine – don’t mind if we do – all of which we find plays a crucial part of the ritual that bonds us writers together.

And it’s amazing just how many of us there are, isn’t it?

You know what it’s like. You eventually pluck up the courage to tell people you write, only for the conversation to go something like this:

Well, actually I write a little bit.

Really?  What a coincidence! I write as well.

Oh. So, what do you write?

Well, I write…(insert various genres/stories in this part)

Are you published yet…?

And this is where the conversation can become slightly trickier, depending on which of you has been the most successful in their writerly pursuits so far.  Or, much more irritating, the conversation often goes more like this:

Well, actually I write a little bit.

Really? Will I have read anything you’ve written?

Er… I’m not sure/er… no, I’m not published yet, I’m working on that.

So, what’s your book about?

(You tell them)

Oh right. It sounds just like (insert title of a book you’ve never read).

This is where you smile and nod, not hearing another word they say, as you desperately wait for the person to leave so you can google the book and make sure that it really isn’t just like yours!

But, it isn’t always like that. Sometimes you strike it lucky and discover a friend, or maybe a group of friends, who can push you along with your writing, especially when you feel like giving up because it’s taking forever to get anywhere or you don’t think you have the time. When you find them, snap them up.  Invite them over for lots of tea/coffee/wine and discussions about all things writerly.  Share books, magazines, social media posts, compliment each other and commiserate when things are tough, offer comments, thoughts and suggestions, open and honestly, on their work and accept their views on yours in the way they are intended.

We all know writing can be a lonely experience – one which is filled with highs and lows (quite often more lows than highs, especially when you get those rejection slips/emails). You need someone who understands what you are going through, someone to commiserate with you and pick you up when you’re low, and someone who will shout it from the rooftops when you hit that high.

And once a year, book yourselves into a hideaway somewhere, turn off your smart phones and take-yourselves off for some serious writing, or at the very least some very, very serious discussions about it!

So here are a few photos from our writerly weekend.


9 thoughts on “The Importance of Writerly Friends

  1. Thanks, Abbey – we had such a productive weekend. It’s a real luxury to be able to have 2-3 days where we can just focus on writing – whether that’s actual writing, or walking on the beach trying to work out your plot etc. Just perfect.


  2. For me the critical thing is having a few people I can swap stories with. I don’t feel easy talking about my work while I’m doing it, but being able to wave it at people who know their stuff is really helpful – but, we’re all different! I love the idea of the cottage and the cake.


    • Hi Nimue – thanks for your comment. Yes, cottage and cake is always good! You’re right, we’re all different and some of us don’t feel comfortable talking about our WIP, but it’s sometimes good just to talk through the the process of writing, or where we’re heading etc. I’ve found writers to be an incredibly supportive bunch – always ready to share hints and tips, and what has worked for them. X


    • Thanks, Joyce. Detty and I have known each other for over ten years now and have kept each other going in terms of writing. Without that support I might not be where I am today in terms of being published.


  3. Cheese, nibbles, cakes, wine – sounds like the perfect retreat, Ellie! And you’re are right – writer friends are very special -they’re the only ones who understand ‘why’! : )


  4. Hi Rae – yes, it was pretty much perfect – we’re planning another one in October. I don’t know what I’d do without a writer friend – when I explained to my family about the weekend, they just stared at me – wow, that sounds really boring, mum! As you say – writer friends understand ‘why’ 🙂


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