Creating the elusive perfect story is a solitary endeavor, but it doesn’t have to be a lonely journey.
The art of writing or the mere pursuit of it is an infinite journey of self-discovery. Writers draw from their various life experiences to tell stories which speak of who they are and where they’re from. Because of the amount of introspection necessary to formulate a story, writers are often portrayed as eccentric loners, whose brilliance is inextricably intertwined in their quirkiness. The image of the withdrawn, lonely, psychotic and often self-destructive figure, banging away at the keyboard has become an accepted icon for the writer’s life.
As a writer, I’m here to tell you that the aforementioned assessment of writers is not entirely accurate and yet not entirely without merit either. When the writer is trying to extricate the ideas that form the story they want to tell, it is an internal process which only they alone can achieve. It is often painful and lonely. Writers place themselves in an environment that is isolated, so as to afford optimal concentration and peaceful reflection. However, along the way we must take the opportunity to interact and network with others, or else doom ourselves to failure. Writers are natural born observers of the world around them. They interpret the various events they see—in the chaos we call life—that touches them and compels them to create a story only they can tell. Yet, for all of the observations, mental snapshots and quickly jotted notes on the happenings around us, we must also interact with the world we’re drawn to observe.
I’ve found that a cup of coffee with another writer, or group of writers helps to quell the feelings of isolation writers are often subject to. It gives us not only the opportunity to express ourselves to others and get constructive feedback, but also to take a break from the act. Writers know that deadlines, whether from an agent, publisher or self-imposed are the gremlins of psychotic breakdown. They are necessary evils that we cannot escape yet, we can’t let them drive us insane either.
Reliable sounding boards, a referral to a service for assistance in an unfamiliar business aspect of the writing business, are few of the benefits to networking and interaction. We must also not forget that maintaining a healthy dialogue with others can improve our writing when we’re faced with creating a scene where dialogue is required. It can also help with character development as well. Despite my call to occasionally step away from the writing machine, I am aware that it is unrealistic to expect a total abandonment of a writer’s nature to observe.
Writers are some of the most creative people ever produced, and as such are prone to anxiety and depression. In order to combat this we must force ourselves to take the time to stop, breathe, and interact with others, not only for the purpose of improving our writing itself, but also to save ourselves from the fate of the iconic stereotype. As a community we must work together to keep ourselves from falling into the abyss of isolation and depravity. We should live by the motto, “United we stand, divided we fall,” and help ourselves to realize that, “The road more or less traveled, doesn’t have to be traveled alone.”