Monday, February 28, 2011

Writing is NOT a Solitary Business

Well, at least, it isn't for me.  In fact, I'd have to say that since I started taking my writing seriously and sought out a way to connect with other writers, I've been around more people (theoretically speaking) in the last couple years than I have in my entire life.

Never before have I felt so non-solitary.

Sometimes I feel like I'm in the middle of this enormous crowd, struggling for readers' and fellow bloggers' attention.

And in what other industry do workers express themselves as much and to as many people as writers?  Writers write to connect with the world around them, to tell the guy next door and the guy across the ocean, "Hey!  This is who I am!  And this is how I see the world!"  

Does the guy in the cubicle ever get to do that?  Or the truck driver who spends countless hours on the road, away from his family?

No.  We do.

Even the physical act of writing is no longer solitary.  We have things like NaNoWriMo to let everyone know just how many words we wrote and maybe even how many hours we spent doing it.  As we write our first drafts, we send them to CPs to help us hone our strengths and fix our weaknesses.  And when that's all done, we send it to even more people.

No.  Writing is not solitary.  It may have been once upon a time, but those days are gone for the majority of us out there.

So why do we cling to this idea of aloneness?  

You tell me.  


  1. That's interesting that you feel that way and I can understand why.

    I actually like being alone as I write and I haven't done Nano or anything like that because I don't like the idea of sharing every little bit of info about my current writing. Even though I blog and am a forumite, there are some things that I believe should remain private. This is also why I don't write lots of updates on word counts or agent searches.

    I attend writers meetings and blog and forum because that's how I get moral support from other writers but the process of writing itself I like to do alone.


  2. interesting!
    but you are right! and if you think about it further down the line- in traditional publishing, there's agents, and editors, and publishing houses, and a buncha people who work together to get a book shiny for publication...
    maybe we say it is solitary because it makes us sound like supercool, confident loner types???

  3. well it is called a solitary business because it requires tens of hours a day spent lonely in front of your writing.
    While I'm doing my translation work, I usually don't talk with a single human being for three quarters of a day :(

  4. Dezmond--And yet that's true for many employment opportunities--the worker stuck in his lonely cubicle, the truck driver who drives all alone cross-country are just two examples.

    So why the distinction?

  5. I think it's habit mostly and so many of us are introverted. We would rather watch than participate. For me, it's a matter of privacy. I'm a very private person when it comes to my innermost thoughts and my family. At ties, it's hard to break out of that mode and connect with people. Although, I'm a million times more outgoing than I used to be but that could be age...

  6. The writing process is solitary. You, alone with your thoughts, characters in your head, and alien landscapes as you pound away at the keyboard. Nothing but your words weaving patterns on the screen in front of you. Once written, you start to share them with others and the social interactions begin on the web, with your friends, or just with the person closest to you, but it all begins alone.

    Most jobs circle around people from the beginning.

    I take my little words and set them adrift on the vague and less than real internet via comments and blog posts while hammering sounds into pleasant combinations on a word document that I wish to become a novel, hoping people will like my clever combinations. There is something lonely in that...

  7. Yeah, writing is lonely stuff. That's why it's better to just read and thanks to the ipad reading books has become cool again.


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