4 Surprising Ways Your Library Can Help Your Writing

Category: Writing

In case you didn’t know, Saturday 6 February is National Libraries Day! We all know libraries as places of knowledge, places to borrow books, and as places to join groups and feel connected to your community, but did you know that libraries are also great place for writers of all states to go and get inspiration?

Community involvement

No matter what stage you are in your writing career, if you want to get writing, there’s no place like the library. Libraries inspire imagination and writing, friendship and knowledge. And, as Reading Champion Claire Askew says, libraries “don't judge. Whoever you are, and however you want to engage with the library, you will be welcomed. You don't need to be able to write fluently to engage with the library, and the staff won't judge you if you're still learning. Because reading and writing are for absolutely everyone." So now is the time to get involved, and celebrate writing in your local library.

Reading and writing are for absolutely everyone

Creative writing groups

If you want to get started writing, or think you may want to, then the first port of call should be your local library. All across Scotland libraries are homes for community-based, library-run, and specialist writing groups. Are you interested in learning more about writing poetry and want to try your hand at it in an environment that fosters support and engagement? Then check out the poetry workshops and poetry writing groups at the Scottish Poetry Library in Edinburgh. If you are in Glasgow you’re well covered for poetry and prose meetings and regular support groups. And, if you are based outside these metropolises, you're STILL in luck, as loads of writing groups meet in libraries all around Scotland, from Stirling, to Huntly, to Bo’ness.

The key is to not be shy, to get to your local library and start writing.

Writing competition and readings

Once you’ve been writing a bit and feel more comfortable with your work, have a look at the notice board in your local library. Many of them have competitions and friendly readings that are perfect ways to get your feet wet. If your library doesn’t have a reading night or competition, don’t be dismayed, speak to your librarian about the potential to host one, and look in the wider library network for somewhere to get involved. The Glasgow Women’s Library offers a creative writing competition, as does the National Library of Scotland – which hosts competitions for both young writers and adults.

Plus, look out for university library writing competitions and readings – most are open to non-university goers – and check out the ones that are attached to larger events, like Book Week Scotland competitions that happen in libraries all around Scotland.

Writing residencies

If you have had some publishing and reading success, you may want to look into the next step and get more involved with the libraries as a way to both focus your work and give back to the places that helped you write. Now is the time for a residency. To bag one of these, keep your eyes and ears tuned to the world of Scottish libraries and know what sort of residency you can manage. These come in a variety of styles and in loads of locations, and all have different remits, from working in Scots to writing creative responses to library collections, to helping to inspire others with Walking with Poets and our very own reading champions!


For more writing inspiration, check out our blogs on juggling life and writing, getting started on comics, and tips on building interesting scenes