Now's the Perfect Time to Write That Novel You've Been Thinking About Forever

By Danica Lo

Cultivating a new hobby, like writing, during lockdown is easier than ever with online communities and access to author tutorials at your fingertips

Tatler Asia
There's never been a better time to start writing (photo: Getty Images)
Cover  There's never been a better time to start writing (photo: Getty Images)

There's never been a better time to write that book you've been thinking about all these years. With the world in a pandemic lockdown and, let's face it, lots of downtime in the foreseeable future, it's the perfect opportunity to take advantage of online writing groups, expert tutorials, and digital workshops to engage in the solitary act of writing and process all those introspective learnings culled from nearly a year in self-isolation.

What's so great is that you won't have to go at it alone.

Over the past few months, so many literary groups and writers communities have sprung up online—bringing together anyone, from novices to professionals, looking for dialogue, ideas exchange, and a sense of community. Embark on a new writing project now and not only will it create opportunities to process difficult emotions in a complicated period of history, but participating in an online group gives writers from all different backgrounds the chance to engage with other writers working towards similar goals.

Here are some cool digital resources to explore if writing is something you'd like to explore.

Marian Keyes' free Instagram writing workshop

Bestselling Irish author Marian Keyes has been running a free writing workshop via her Instagram account @marian_keyes. The four-week Instagram Live course covers the basics of constructing plot, characterisation, and dialogue, and takes place at 7.30 pm GMT each Monday. Questions can be submitted to Keyes in advance via Instagram. Keyes is the author of 17 novels and 5 non-fiction books. Her latest novel, Grown Ups, was published in February 2020 and was a number-one Sunday Times bestseller.

See also: What Matters To Me: Award-Winning Author Amanda Lee Koe

Participate in an online write-along

Every November since 1999, non-profit organisation NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) loosely assembles thousands of voluntary self-identified participants around the world to run at the goal of completing a first-draft of a novel in one month. In a normal, non-pandemic year, NaNoWriMo city and neighbourhood groups will hold informal "writealong" sessions, usually held at coffee shops or social gathering spots around town. In 2020, the writealong concept migrated online, and, for some influencers, has extended far beyond November. 

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The idea is pretty straightforward—log on at a pre-ordained time and livestream your favourite influencer working at their desk while you work at yours (or you can just watch them work, I guess), or tune into a pre-recorded writing session at a later date. For anyone who's been working in isolation for the past year, the simulation of working in a shared virtual space with someone else can feel nice, familiar, or even comforting. And the practice of scheduling in a set timeframe for writing each day can help build good habits going forward.

See also: 5 Minutes With... Loretta Chen, Singaporean Author Of Madonnas And Mavericks

Join a Facebook writers' group

By and large, writing is a solitary endeavor, but once in a while it can be nice to check in with a group of likeminded hobbyists and professionals. The best thing about Facebook Groups is that members can follow along passively or participate in a more active way, depending on what they prefer. Here are three popular Facebook writer's groups to consider following and joining.

  • The Writer's Circle: At 965,000 followers, The Writer's Circle is the biggest writer's community on the social media platform. 
  • Writers Helping Writers: With 44,000 followers, Writers Helping Writers is run by bestselling authors Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi, who offer group members resources, advice, and insight into the writing process as well as the publishing industry.
  • Writing Bad: With 14,000 members, this closed group (apply to join) is a community of writers dedicated to helping each other improve their writing skills. 

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