When you think about a writer, what picture do you have in your mind? An old man with a pipe sitting in a room by himself in front of an old type writer? Or perhaps it’s a woman sitting at an elegant table with a white MAC and a cup of coffee and typing her (hopefully) next best seller.
The interesting thing in that picture is not the device used to write, nor the table or the coffee. It doesn’t even matter if there’s a man or a woman in that image. What’s probably the most striking thing about that mental image in many people’s mind is the fact that the writer is the only person there.
It’s true that the actual writing is done alone. I’m pulling these statistics out of thin air of course but I’ll bet that about 99.837% of all writers prefer to sit by themselves when they write. Some like background music and others might find their groove with the sound of the ocean and there’s a lot to be said about the lighting, visual environment and a hundred and one other things. To each their own. The point is that the actual work of a writer – write – is being done mostly alone.
I personally like my company and find myself to be the best match for me on most occasions (Although that doesn’t happen as often as I’d like it to). But that doesn’t mean that everything about the writing process has to be done alone. I’d go a step forward and say that there are many things within the writing process which would gain a lot by collaborating, sharing and opening up to others.
Writing, like many creative occupations is a subject for perspective. Different people view it from different points of view and every little thing about writing can be a topic for a full-blown symposium. If you think I’m kidding or even exaggerating a little, try to search the web for the plethora of seminars, webinars and books about writing. I think that the only subject in the world that tops that is the bible…
Having said that, let me say that personally I find human interaction with people you have something in common with is my preferred way of opening up. I like to learn new things, that’s true. I thoroughly enjoyed the workshop I raved on here in previous posts. But once all is said and done, and I have to sit down in front of that laptop, what stick in my mind (on top of the material I tried to store there from my learning) are the evenings spent with my 2 partners in crime.
I wrote here about the writer group I belong to. This group is a fantastic forum in which I literally learn something new every time. It’s a place where I get to listen to the works of others and since everyone is different and unique, I get to take a glance at something that I might like, a mistake I need to avoid, or something in someone else’s work that resonates with me and my own writing.
In addition to that, I also belong to a much smaller forum. A group of three writers. What we have in common is more than one thing.
First and foremost is obviously our love for literature and our wish (or should I say need) to write. Of course we value each other’s input (Otherwise, there is no point in meeting). And third, we are there to be brutally honest… I admit that being brutally honest is not easy. I’ll go right ahead and say that it might be frustrating at times. But the thing that’s extremely important to understand is that this is not a high school reunion and if your old mate gained 70 pounds, you don’t smile and say “Hey, you didn’t change a bit!”. What you should say is “Hey, What the hell happened to you? Did you sink into a well of sugar and ate your way out?”. You need honesty, otherwise the purpose of your little group is nothing but (excuse my French) a masturbation circle… (Not that I know what that is, my friend told me about it…)
But you know what? Being honest is not even the very most important thing. The most important thing is…. drum roll…. Commitment! Yes, I said it… If you spend your time thinking about wanting to “have written” something instead of writing it and if you’re thinking “I want to write something sometime” then you can’t be part of a productive writers group of any kind. You need to commit yourself to the end result – write your damn book (Or short story, or whatever)! That means never back down, never falter and never stop writing. It means moving forward. It means setting goals for yourself and set expectations with your peers. If you’re not willing to commit, it’s not only your time you’re wasting, it’s also the time of others who spend time off their own projects to help you with yours.
Circling back to where I started. Is writing a lonely experience? No it is not. It shouldn’t be. It can’t be.
You need perspective. You need your ideas bounced off an objective ear (No, your good friend Michelle is the worst option, cause you can never go wrong in her mind). You need brutal honesty and openness to take it. You need commitment. Do you think you have it? If you said “Yes” then please find these few people who you’d want to work with and make your writing and your writing experience whole.
Looking for a good place to start? A fantastic website for that is www.meetup.com. You’ll find just about any group gathered around every topic in your area.
Still need help? email me. It’s free 🙂