Writing can be lonely…but it doesn’t have to be.

I say it a lot. Because it’s true…all of it…

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So, what is this Dark Side I speak of?

Well, in the beginning, we all start this journey alone and unlearned…marooned on Jakku, no parental figures to guide us, no peers (as yet) to encourage and help us and no real understanding of the Force (writing craft).

Over time, we pick up things on our own, find a way to survive, writing in a solitary way, in our own Dagobah swamps…we may even have a trusty R2D2 unit (laptop) which gives us some technical assistance…

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But ultimately, we need friends, be it Rebels or fellow Padawans, or even full Jedi Masters, if you’re lucky…we need companionship, not just to help us understand the Force and become better Jedis, but also to help us when the Force fails us, or we face a (writing) block and feel we can’t go on.

In those moments, it’s a quiet whisper, or a wise piece of advice that can be the difference between us continuing on the path to becoming a Jedi…or whether we go down the path of the Dark Side (give up writing)*.

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*I will add right here and now, that there is nothing wrong with taking a break, or not writing for a while – both are therapeutic for the soul and help us recharge our lightsabers – but I’m a firm believer, not only in the Jedi religion, but also that each of us as writers needs 1 quality above all others – persistence.

And while many of us might already have resolves of steel, and be undeterred by an imperial blockade, staring in the face of fifty cruisers in your own x-wing, not all of us, myself included, are made from the stern stuff. We are fragile, vulnerable, emotional and all the other things Jedis are not supposed to be…

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However, I would argue that it was the very emotional actions of Luke that helped to take down the Empire, and allowed him to continue his Jedi journey beyond the Battle of Endor.

We are all wonderfully flawed, deep, complex and at the mercy of allowing dark thoughts to creep into our mindsets. But this is part of us, and part of the very characters that we write – and when we are told to write what we know, this is how I interpret that flawed piece of advice – write about our vulnerabilities, flaws, our so-called and perceived Dark Side.

But I digress…I was going in the direction of support, of help, of friends. Luke did not bring the Empire down all on his own…he did not steer away from the Dark Path that his father had tread before him, all by himself…he had the love and support of great friends, of wise mentors and of a group of people who believed in the same fundamental goodness and truth that he did.

And that is why writing communities and friends are so important…

For so long – too long – I plodded a long, weary and dark road when I began writing. But I’d never have come as far as I have, and as far as I know I will go, without the friendships, support and community of, not just WriteMentor, but all of the writing communities to which I can claim to be part of, from SCBWI to Writers HQ, to the far reaches of our writing galaxy and beyond…

Have a wonderful festive period, my writing friends, and let’s be the spark that ignites a writing revolution in 2020…

Stuart