Can a writer (or should a writer) ever really go it alone?

If you have other things in your life—family, friends, good productive day work—these can interact with your writing and the sum will be all the richer.  ~ David Brin

Last night I met with the Northwords Writers’ Camp writers and presented on how the Internet fits into/enhances my writing life.  I mentioned how it’s a great resource for:

  • Support, Inspiration, Community
  • Education, Practice
  • Writing markets, Publishers
  • Marketing, Communicating and building relationships with readers

I also delivered the reminder that we all apparently need to hear on on occasion. Just like any super hero has their kryptonite, the Internet has a side that can cripple even the most stalwart writer. It’s called TIME SUCKAGE. Only writing is writing.

And I touched on a few other things to beware of online (in blogs or public forums):

  • Nothing is private
  • Nothing goes away
  • Published online (even “just” on your blog) is published.

But feeling that the pros of getting involved in the Internet writing community (how it can help one grow in and enjoy his/her writing life) far outweigh any small cons, I encouraged each attendee to start their own blog and we spent the rest of our time talking about Do’s and Don’ts of great blogs and did some writing exercise to per chance get us started.

As ever I was blown away by people’s creativity and how unique and highly individual each person’s results were, even with exercises as specific and guided as the ones we did together were. It reminded me yet again of why I write, why I readto share, to learn, to grow.  To think, to laugh and sometimes, though definitely not last night, to cry.

It also reminded me of how good it is to get together with other writers (in person, live!) and talk craft. The Internet is awesome and I’m incredibly grateful for it, but it doesn’t replace the value and importance (and fun :)) of getting together in real-time with flesh and blood people who share your interests. (We talked about that too.)

If you’ve been writing in solitary confinement (as is, of course, the necessity and norm)or perhaps are feeling that you’re not getting enough alone time with your wordsre-read the quote I opened this post with. It’s good to have people and other activities in our lives. They refill the well.

Yes, only writing is writing, but sometimes to keep on track with our writing (in a way that brings joy, refreshes our inspiration, soothes our fears, etc) connection with other kindred soulsonline or face-to-faceis just what the Dr ordered.

What do you think? Can any writer truly go it alone?

7 thoughts on “Can a writer (or should a writer) ever really go it alone?

  1. My take on this is that a writer SHOULD spend a certain amount of time in the company of other writers. A well-turned phrase is a form of art, not merely science, and as such should be nourished as such. The purpose of coming together isn’t to recall what an adjective or a participle is or why it shouldn’t be left dangling; the purpose is more to inspire, to encourage, to assist past those difficult parts that sometimes you can’t get past alone. Take, as an example, photography: Photographers spend time together with other photographers, talking about techniques, lighting, scenes, composure and most importantly… taking pictures. I love to have other photographers critique my work because it makes me better. Other writers critiquing another writer’s work should also have the effect of making it stronger… as long as it isn’t done meanly.

    Strength in numbers? I would certainly say so. At the very least, it provides a sense of community and association; a feeling that you’re a part of something larger than yourself. Yes, only writing is writing, and cannot be substituted for anything else… but if there’s an available support system, make use of it.

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  2. I’m a big advocate of writers groups as they give you a place that you fit in, where you can vent your frustrations and learn from those who’ve gone before you. It’s also a fantastic place to network, brainstorm ideas and just have fun. I wouldn’t give up my writers group to go it alone, not a chance!

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  3. Dear Lewis,

    Yes, you nailed *exactly* why I feel it’s important for writers to meet. 🙂 I loved so many of your lines, especially: “The purpose of coming together isn’t to recall what an adjective or a participle is or why it shouldn’t be left dangling; the purpose is more to inspire, to encourage, to assist past those difficult parts that sometimes you can’t get past alone.” and “At the very least, it provides a sense of community and association; a feeling that you’re a part of something larger than yourself.”

    Your comparison of all this to photography was very apt, too, and just a little weird, because I’d just gotten up to get myself more tea and thought, I say ‘writing’ and ‘writers,’ but I think if those words got substituted with almost anything a person was passionate about, the same would hold true–and then there your reply was, affirming my point and also applying it to another art.

    Thanks so much for dropping by and sharing your thoughts, so well-expressed.

    🙂 Ev

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  4. Dear Shannon,

    Wonderfully put and I agree heartily! I feel a tad jealous of you and your group, too– 🙂 I was part of a really great writing group, but had to pull back for a bit when my dad got sick. I’ve been missing it like crazy, but just as I was thinking I might be able to go back, have heard that it’s folded. 😦

    I’m looking forward to SiWC immensely though–and plan to put out feelers re: any other writing groups possibly looking for a new member in the fall.

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  5. I’ve been missing my writer’s group. Life’s been too hectic lately to both write and socialize (even with other writers) but the internet keeps me feeling less like a hermit. Great post. Found you through a ‘Tags’ browse 🙂

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  6. Dear Madison,

    I’m so glad you found me–and that you enjoyed my thoughts.:) I hear you on the busyness of life. Sometimes something has to give–not the writing itself though, hopefully, never that!

    >>>but the internet keeps me feeling less like a hermit<<<

    That's why I love it too. I hope you can visit here again.

    Happy writing (and hoping your time gets freed up a bit soon),
    Ev

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  7. When I wrote my first book I did it completely alone. I knew nothing about the writing community. Basically I wrote my book then had no idea what to do with it. I looked online and did some querying, but mostly it just sat in a file on my computer and waited for me to do something with it. Then I started writing my second book because the story-telling part I understood. It wasn’t until I got a Nook and read this book I liked that had the author’s Facebook page listed in the back that I finally found direction. I contacted the author and she was very nice and gave me a lot of great information. She also invited me to be a part of a writing group and since then discovered this whole community of people.

    Social networks can and do take a ton of time and I probably do not utilize all the time I spend on them properly, but I would have never published if I hadn’t found this incredibly supportive community. Now my hope is that I can help another floundering author on his/her journey the same way I was helped. I also met Ev on Twitter and she did such an amazing job editing my book. I think as an author you have to find a balance between the two. You need the connections, but you also need to write.

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