If a person wants to build a tech startup, he or she can increase the odds of success, if they move to a place with lots of like-minded people (e. g. Silicon Valley, Israel, London, Berlin). That way they surround themselves with people, with whom they can exchange ideas and who have similar goals.

I'm wondering what such place for writers could be. Imagine some non-native English speaker wanted to become as good a fiction writer as possible, and willing to move to another place for that purpose. What are places with a high concentration of resources that can help you become a better writer? Why?

Note: Please don't reply "England" -- I'd like to have a more precise location.

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    London and New York. But in the times of the internet, many writers network long distance. Writing requires being undisturbed (unlike music or film making), so writers often seek remote places to live and only meet at book fairs or conventions, if at all.
    – user5645
    Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 11:39

2 Answers 2


London and New York are indisputable the places where English language publishing takes place. Traditionally, therefore, they were the places you needed to be to get the attention of a publisher. But while personal relationships still help, it would seem that there are far more avenues now than being invited to the right dinner party by the right hostess.

Which leaves us with the question of whether the company of other writers is needed to make you a better writer. Certainly, the company of other writers is pleasant to writers. I wish I lived in a place where it was possible to go have a drink with like-minded writers on a regular basis. (Like-minded is the hard part.)

But would it actually make me a better writer? Much as I have valued, or at least enjoyed, the experience of writing classes and critique groups in the past, and as much as if I were granted one trip in the Tardis I would choose to go to the Bird and Baby for an Inklings meeting, I am less and less convinced that any of this actually makes me any better. I think you learn to write by reading with attention, but that fundamentally you learn to become a writer by learning to see -- by paying the proper kind of attention to the world around you, to its texture, to the particular difficulties of human life and human relations.

And those things you can do anywhere.

Or, to put it another way, writing is participation in a conversation extended through time and through space. It gets is particular character not from presence but from distance. It is not only a lonely profession, loneliness, and the yearning of the lonely spirit across the gaps of time and distance, may be of its essence.

Or that maybe a piece of romantic puffery and fiction may not be any different really from marketing writing, in which case, iron sharpens iron, and if you want to excel, get you to the place where iron meets iron, which is London and New York.

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    In case anyone is wondering what the 'Bird and Baby' is, it's the nickname for a pub called 'The Eagle and Child' in Oxford. CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien were members of a writers club called the Inklings that used to meet there. I visited there just last weekend, it's lovely! Commented Feb 8, 2017 at 16:18

As mentioned already, writing tends to be a task suited for solitude. Now, while it's not necessarily the "Silicon Valley" of writing, one of the main things I see most Fiction and Non-Fiction writers have in common is military experience. Many writers I've met started writing while they were in the Military and many of them weren't necessarily writing about their military experience. Tangentially, many writers were military brats or came from military families.

I attribute this to a couple key factors.

  1. Time. While in the military there is a tremendous amount of "Down-time" where there isn't much to do. Standing post, cleaning equipment, being in formation, are all activities where there is plenty of time to think and observe. Since military members have all basic necessities taken care of, ie, food, water, housing, clothing, there's not much else to worry about, so there's no real need for a second job or anything like that. Free time is actually free time, unless you're overseas, then free time can be more "sit around and wait" time. All this leads to an abundance of time which people can devote to writing, if they desire.
  2. Experience. Having spend 4 years as a infantry Marine, I can honestly say that I've experienced a great many things that most people haven't. From relationship drama of people getting cheated on, to people dying, to hiking through dense jungle, to being in firefights, to overt racism, all these experiences were things that I probably wouldn't have had the opportunity to see/do if I hadn't joined the military. These experiences translate directly to writing, whether someone is writing Fiction or Non-Fiction. Not all these experiences were necessarily positive or "fun", but depending on what you're looking to write, you won't find a place to gather a collection of adventures/stories better than the military.
  3. Diversity. This more ties into the above "Experience" but people of all walks of life join the military. If you're looking to write about our world or a fictional one, you'll need to explore this diversity, in some way, to create well rounded and believable characters. Some people get this diversity by observing the people around them. "People watching" does provide a great benefit to most writers and can help them create characters and/or interactions. The military is a collection of people from all walks of life and vastly different socio-economic backgrounds.

The aforementioned New York, specifically at coffee shops, would be the next best place and the most likely place to run into other writers with similar goals. However, I would expect most of these writers to be "aspiring" writers who may not provide the best platform to share ideas or improve your writing.

John Green has a youtube channel(vlogbrothers) where he addresses this type of question indirectly a few times. Can't find the exact video.

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