Writing, Critique Partnerships and Other Stories

From a community of writers, critique partners and beta readers.

Apr 24, 2020

Writing in a Rural Location

By Tia Colborne.

I became a writer because escaping to a cabin in the woods to create sounded like a dream come true. Being alone with my thoughts writing a best-selling book is the perfect way to spend my mid-life.

Sometimes it feels like all the “writerly” stuff happens in city centres, and this is a problem when you are trying to establish yourself as a writer from a small community. Despite the digital connectivity we have cultivated in our society, we still crave real human interaction. When you’re in a city, access to writing support is easy to find. When your locale is more remote, you need to look for opportunities to connect. Writing is a solitary activity, but you cannot write a masterpiece alone. You need support: a writing group, a place for research, editors, readers. All these people and resources are available in your rural area, but you'll have to work harder to find them or even cultivate them yourself.

If you're lucky, there is already a writing group in your area to join. Writing groups in rural areas can be very eclectic. You will find fiction and non-fiction all working together. Try the neighbourhood library, a bookstore in town, even a local theatre group to find your people. If you can't find a group, you can be the person to start bringing local writers together.

If that doesn't work, the internet is crawling with social media groups of every type, plus you've already stumbled across Critiquematch.com, so you've found a vast source for feedback very helpful during editing.

Beginning writers should take writing classes to give their writing practice a shape. There's an endless supply of writing classes on the internet, but before you pay big bucks for a college course, check out your local library website for free or low-cost online courses. My county library offers an entire suite of writing courses online free of charge. Your favourite author has a website, maybe they teach online courses or provide tips and tricks on their blog too.

Research is an essential part of writing. The internet will provide, but if you are off the grid in a cabin, internet access can be a challenge. You will have to plan weekly trips to a nearby town to use the internet. Community centres, restaurants and coffee shops offer free internet access. Be organized; know what you need to research. Save materials on your computer or even print things out so you can reference them when you return to your writing retreat.

In a rural setting, a writing practice is vital, even when it seems like you have nothing but time and peace. Set a schedule with a beginning and an ending time. Plan for breaks and downtime. Real-world connection helps keep you fresh as an artist. Away from city life, this means hikes, cooking, a video chat with friends and, of course, reading a good book.

Finding support from early readers can be a joyful experience in a small community. Locals will love to read advanced copies of your book and brag about the author who lives down the lane. Nothing beats community pride. You'll feel valued as a special member of your little community.

Good writing can happen anywhere. Some people do their best work in Starbucks and some people do their best work holed up for weeks in a remote cottage. If you are writing in the country, be prepared for the 'loudness' of silence and hours that stretch on for days. Embrace the experience and look, listen and feel deeply. Let space and time be light on your soul; don't let your thoughts all crowd in at once. Allow them to enter one at a time and swirl around, you might see your writing in a whole new way.


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About the Author: Tia Colborne
Tia Colborne is a writer living on the southern shore of Lake Huron in Ontario, Canada. She’s up at 5:30 am writing with the birds every day before her family wakes up. Her current project is a memoir of her time spent living in Moscow as a cast member of 42nd Street - the Musical, the first American production to be produced in Moscow after the fall of communism. The ill-fated production played during the Moscow Theatre Hostage Crisis of 2002. It’s a story of cultural adventure, with crazy characters and deep tragedy.
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