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

Déjà vu Thursday – This is a re-post of a fairly recent pondering (written originally August 5, 2011), but it feels timely because the Internet—and its friend and foe ways—has been a big part of my writing life again lately. Just last night I was thinking, Yeesh, if it wasn’t for my writing friends and cohorts, what would I do? Maybe you’re feeling a similar blessing (or a sad lack?). As ever, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

* * *

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 read—to 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 words—re-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 souls—online or face-to-face—is just what the Dr ordered.

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

4 thoughts on “Can (should!) a writer ever really go it alone?

  1. I totally agree with you, mixing with other people is inspiring. I find the best thing I can do when I run out of story ideas is step away from my computer and go out of the house.

    The online writer friends I have made mean so much to me, I can’t even put it into words.

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  2. Hey, Rebecca! Thanks for coming by and for your lovely comment.

    Considering the little I know you of you personally (and seeing the wonderful encourager and frequent participant you are on the Ether Books Facebook group), I’m sure that your affection/value for your online friends is very reciprocated!

    And now I need to step away from my computer and go out of the house–not because I’m out of story ideas, but because the day job I posted about earlier in the week demands my attention. 😉

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  3. Hi Ev, I agree very much with your thoughts, in that internet relationships can add value yet suck away time, and that face-to-face contact is the best way to interact with fellow writers when you are looking for support and feedback. The caveat I would add is that loneliness adds to my desire to write. Hawthorne addresses the “Dear Reader” at the beginning of his novels, and the longer I write, the more I find myself focused on the that elusive perfect reader who will read and understand everything I am trying to say. As I write more to him, I write with more sincerity, with more vulnerability, and I find myself longing to spend more time with him because as he listens, my words taking on a life of their own, and become as real as he is…

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  4. Dear Susan,

    I didn’t know that Hawthorne did that in every novel–interesting. I relate to your comment very much and suspect that a certain loneliness or feeling of “otherness” fuels many a writer, actually. I’ve written about it before (perhaps even blogged about it–maybe it will be next week’s Deja vu post!)–the thoughts, wishes, dreams and imaginings that I send out into the void, hoping for some small whisper in return: You are not alone. I’ve felt like that too, recognized that, long for that, wonder that . . .

    I also have an “ideal” reader that I write for–and wonder, for me, how different my fiction writing is (in motivation) from the meandering ruminations and frantic rantings I filled spiral bound journal after journal with, each entry addressed to “Dear D.R.” 😉

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