Writing Is A Solitary Art

Posted: January 21, 2013 in Reflections, Writing

People have some strange image of writers, that we sit at desks with pen and paper or computers all day and easily crank out word after word, and then in the evening we rub shoulders with the paparrazzi and the rich and elite and educated and the celebrated.

Well, that’s wrong.

True., we’re often at desks, and more writers are turning to computers to create their works of art. However, it’s not at all to write. We spend hours trying to force ourselves and our Muses to work, to create what for some is a means to live and for others is plain living. And you know what? We do it alone. Sure, some of us have assistants. Many of us have family and friends that support us, and of course there are Internet groups and people who critique your work and, should you be so lucky, fans.

But you’re the only one who’s doing the writing. And rarely do you get to hang out with the stars, if you even want to (they can be so snobbish sometimes). If you do get to hang out with the stars, it’s probably because your books are published by a major publishing house in New York and you’re one of their major money-earners. Then perhaps a few stars might show up at your launch party, but that doesn’t happen often.

I’m getting off-track. Where was I? Oh yes, now I remember:

You are alone in the writing endeavor. It’s just you, the story, and the medium you’re using to write. Most likely, those last two aren’t living, and if they are you have a huge problem! And it’s up to you to sit down and write what you’re writing, to go out and do the necessary research for the story, and to edit and re-edit the story before you send it to an editor or someone you trust to critique your story. You are alone in your passion, your art, your gift. It’s both a blessing and a curse.

Sometimes people will mistake your devotion to writing for being antisocial or for being socially awkward. I’m not antisocial, though I do like at least an hour of alone time for myself each day to unwind, and as a student, I’m often by myself as I head to classes or eat a quick meal before I get a start on homework. As for the socially awkward…yep, that’s me. Sometimes I have trouble with social situations and figuring out what’s the best course of action. It’s led to some awkward moments in my life.

However just because writers must sequester themselves away from others to do their craft doesn’t mean they’re intentionally avoiding being social. In fact, a writer, especially a fiction writer, can’t be any good at what they do if they can’t empathize with the feelings and emotions in the real world and in the world of thier creations. It’s just a requirement for us to be alone for hours on end if we want to create stories that bring us and others joy. It’s the sad truth, but it’s the truth.

And if it brings us the next Harry Potter or a future Ernest Hemingway, doing a solitary activity can’t be all bad, can it?

  1. erin says:

    Not bad at all! One should never feel guilty for spending time alone to write. It’s all I do at the moment as I finish my thesis, and even then I yearn for alone time to work on other writing projects.

    I’m not antisocial or socially awkward, but I love my alone time. People are great companions in small doses, but they quickly become tiresome. I’m at my best, too, when people only get to see me occasionally.

    I think it takes a special kind of person to write, and part of that is being able to put up with oneself for long enough to do so. Without that, you’ve little hope of getting anything done.

  2. jmungar says:

    One of your better posts (not to suggest they mostly suck because they don’t).

  3. Phil says:

    Writing: it’s difficult to do on your own, and impossible to do with someone else. No wonder many of us go slightly mad.

  4. Mark says:

    I came to thank you for checking out my blog, but this is really true. Writing is like self-administered self-exclusion. Also kudos for using ‘sequester’. I love that word.

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