I recently moved in with my boyfriend and relocated to a very small town. While I am not sure I could manage long term in a mega city like New York City or London, I am definitely more of a city person and have gravitated to them in my adult life. I understand the appeal of small towns for people. They often have beautiful landscapes, less traffic, and a lower cost of living, but I have always cherished the floods of people in a big city.
For me, cities symbolize a mixture of ideas and resources. I love being surprised by who I might run into while doing my errands or what new restaurant might open up down the block. I also find it easier to connect with people who have similar interests, mostly because there are simply so many more people to meet.
As I have mentioned in previous posts, I had a strong writing group last year in my former city. We met regularly (multiple times a week) and consistently asked one another for advice on next steps in our work. I still keep in touch with them of course, but I am no longer able to see them as often as I would like.
When I first moved, I worried I would lose the writing momentum that I had spent so much of 2018 building. I thought, how can I possibly meet other writers while living in such a rural place? I stressed about being out of a heavily artistic environment and worried I would involuntarily let writing shift from the forefront of my mind.
However, in the three months I have lived here, I have been surprised that I have been even more productive than I was last year! Living in a small town has actually aided my writing in several ways.
If you are a city person like myself, you might be wondering, how is that possible with a smaller writing network?
Writers are Everywhere
Seriously, we are all over the place. If you strike up a conversation with any random stranger anywhere, there is a good chance that person has dabbled in some form of writing before. In my current town, I met a writer who lives just down the road from me. She is a teacher who is trying to make more time for writing and is interested in having an accountability partner.
Meetup groups are within easy reach as well. I might have to drive a little longer than I used to, but I am able to meet up with writers in the bigger cities around me, and there are plenty of groups to choose from. These groups have been a great way to build connections in the area, as I have written about in a previous post.
Less Options Mean Fewer Distractions
In a city, there are an infinite amount of excuses to not write. Maybe your favorite band is performing downtown that night or your friends are going out for dinner and trying that new fusion restaurant. Or maybe you are bored and just want to go window shop and pop into all the local stores.
If you have ever lived in a truly small town, you will know that it is not unusual for every business to close much earlier than their urban counterparts. If you have ever lived in a Southern small town, like I have, you will know that many businesses do not open at all on Sunday, often not Monday either.
So instead of finding excuses not to write, I have been less distracted and turning to my writing more often. More hours spent writing means more writing accomplished!
Establishing Connections Online
I have been talking about starting a blog for months but never got around to taking the time to make it happen. Now that I have had some downtime, I have been having a fantastic time working on Paper Crow Blog. Not only has this blog helped encourage me to write more often, but I have made connections with a lot of other writers (including my wonderful growing number of followers – thank you!).
Besides working on my own writing, I have also spent more time reading other people’s blogs and getting tips on improving my own. It is amazing how much writing information is out there, if only you have the time to sift through it all.
Coffee Shops – Homes Away from Home
There might be fewer coffee shop options in a less-populated town but most towns (even mine!) have at least one or two. When I need to get out of the house for a little bit, chances are, I head to a coffee shop to do some writing. What is nice about small town coffee shops is that there are less people in them, which means a quieter work environment and better access to outlets for charging your laptop.
Books are Less Expensive
Books, and most everything else, is less expensive in my town. I am able to buy more books, and consequently, read more books because they don’t cost as much as they would in a bigger city. Reading more helps keep me engaged with various forms of writing. With less distractions, I also have more time to read that pile of books, too. It is a win-win situation.
After spending more time in my new town, I have grown to appreciate the perks small towns have to offer. Sometimes, it almost feels like a writing retreat in itself since I am tucked away from the hustle and bustle of a metropolitan area.
How has your environment influenced your writing? Do you have any tips on building your writing community in a small town? If so, leave a comment below; I’d love to hear from you!