Writing is Like a Team Sport

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Laura Besley

Pens Around The World’s first guest blog post comes from our friend Laura Besley. Laura is the author of micro fiction collection, 100neHundred (Arachne Press, 2021), and flash fiction collection, The Almost Mothers (Dahlia Books, 2020). Having lived in the Netherlands, Germany and Hong Kong, she now lives in land-locked central England and misses the sea.

Follow Laura: on Twitter @laurabesley | on Instagram @besley_laura


Great Britain has seen a lot of sporting success in recent months, from gold medals at the Olympics and Paralympic Games in Tokyo to Emma Raducanu winning the US Open. Although there is only one person publicly receiving the accolades, it is a well-known fact that there is an entire team of people behind them and they never would have been able to achieve that level of success on their own.

It is the same with writing.

Like in sport, there are certain parts of writing that you have to do alone. Similar to an athlete who needs to go out there on their own to win that race, dive into that pool or play that game of tennis, a writer needs to think of the idea and get the words down. Unlike athletes, it is often after this initial process that the team work comes into play.

So what if I've been working on my novel for 10 years?

Ask someone else to read your work.

When I started writing, I was far too shy and insecure to ask people I knew to read my work. I felt much more comfortable sending it to ‘faceless’ competitions and journals. That way the rejections stung a little less too. Or so I told myself. With virtually no success this way, I came to the conclusion that I needed to do something different. I joined a group of like-minded writers in an online group called Writers Abroad – many of whom are now members of Pens Around the World.

This opened up a world of support for me as a writer and for my writing.

What’s the difference you might ask? The support you need as a writer is for when things are going well – it’s lovely when people read and comment on your published stories, or leave a review for your book, help spread the word amongst their friends. But, maybe even more importantly, you need that support when things are not going well – when you’ve had yet another rejection, or when you have writer’s block, or when you can’t find the time to write and feel frustrated. Then it’s vital you have someone to talk to, or type out a message to, who understands. As with many jobs, the only person who can truly understand you is someone who does the same. Writers understand writers.

The support you can get from others for your writing is invaluable. Someone who reads your work and offers positive comments and encouragement is wonderful. Equally, someone who reads your work and offers constructive criticism is also invaluable. You know your story and in your head it makes perfect sense, but it takes someone else to read it to show you how to tweak it, which will allow it to make sense for your readers as well.

Other things that a group like Pens Around the World can offer is writing together, providing prompts, reading and writing articles about writing, bouncing ideas off each other, talking through plot problems.

And every step you take together is another step forward.

A cappuccino, a typescript and two pencils

Illustrations are by Laura Besley.

3 Comments

  1. Laura, as always, you’ve put so much into so few words. The right words. In the right order. It’s what you do and I will always be thankful that we travelled this journey together in spite of the fact we are thousands of miles apart in both distance and age. It is always hugely emotional for me to read of your continuing, but unsurprising, writing successes. Writing groups have such immeasurable value to each and every author and poet. It does take a family to raise a book. So glad you have been part of mine. Long may we travel.

  2. “So what if I’ve been working on my novel for 10 years?”

    That raised a wry smile of recognition in this corner! Thanks for writing us this post Laura.

  3. Debbie Hubbard

    Oh yes! Who knew when starting out that writing was a team sport? It’s great having my fellow members to back me up when the doubt mounts or push me in a better direction if I lose my way. Thanks for your insights, Laura!

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