I used to only write alone, lock myself in a room and type away for hours lost in daydreams. In fact, the fastest way to get me to stop typing was to enter the room. I’m secretive. Much like Tom, my artist character in “Painting With Fire,” who keeps sheets draped over his canvasses, I don’t like to show off a work in progress. But as I get older and wiser, I’ve realized that writing alone is overrated. Writing can and should be a social endeavor, too, at least on occasion. Collaboration isn’t just a dirty word used at war tribunals.
Everyone has this stereotype about writers – that we are shy, reserved and always wearing glasses and above all, that we are loners. But I find myself flying in the face of this stereotype lately. Writing may be lonely but I am not alone.
I admit much of writing is and always will be solitary. There are hours, days, months, years, spent typing away, lost in a little world of daydreams. But writing doesn’t happen in a vacuum. There are places, things and people that add flavor and inspiration along the way. You can’t just lock yourself in a room and imagine great big things out of thin air. You have to get out and experience them for yourself, too.
As I get older, the more I realize the importance of writing buddies, of working side by side with other writers, of being part of a writing community. I don’t do this alone anymore. I have writing buddies I meet up and write with at coffee shops. I have a Just Write Meetup group that I go to on Wednesdays. I have a critique group, Writers of the Gangway, that helps me hone my craft. I email and chat with other writers when I can.
Writing alongside others has made me a better writer. I draw inspiration from conversations. I learn from constructive criticism and frankly, I just have a lot more fun.