As someone who enjoys and craves her solitude writing is the perfect activity for me. I can write or think about writing anywhere, anytime. I don’t have to rely on another person to write the words for me. It’s not like some activities that have multiple people involved.
It can though. That’s what I’m learning and completly embracing. How can I need my alone time and want collaboration at the same time? Easy. In a word it’s all about Community.
Sitting down to write is definitely, more or less, the part of writing that requires you to “work alone”. Other people can be in the room while you write, you can even engage with them, but the thoughts and words you put down are yours until you’re ready to share them. You have to figure out how the story goes, the who, what, and where.
That is not to say that’s all there is to writing. Your writing community includes workshop and writing partners, your draft readers, your editors, and the folks who support you. (I even like to include the folks I read as a part of my writing community. Their interviews and insights help me too. If they’re willing to share their experience, why not use that to my advantage?) Think about it, writing involves so much more than just writing. First and foremost writing is reading. But how do you choose what to read? Maybe you take a suggestion from an avid reader you know, your librarian, a popular blogger, or a friend. In doing this you’ve just engaged in community.
Writing is also critique. Getting feedback and alternate perspective from your peers. Hearing someone else talk about your writing breaks open the bubble where you think you have it all figured out. It introduces new ways to think about your story. Whether you end up using that is up to you.
Writing is open mic night at your local coffee shop or bookstore where you get to share your voice with intent listeners. This sets the stage for you to give an audience an experience.
Writing is showing support to other writers at their readings and signings. Not one of us can do it alone.
As much as I absolutely need my time I also need other writers and this community. It can be lonely talking to the characters you create (sometimes they pout or ignore you). I’m constantly reminding myself to get out of the house and engage with real flesh and blood people.
You should too. The community is there so acknowledge them, interact with them, and let them help you grow as a writer.
Putting Words into Action
The West End Poetry Festival is taking place
Oct. 18th through Oct. 21st in Carrboro NC
If you’re around, check it out!