Friday, December 16, 2016

The Myth of Going It Alone--Why Book Writers Need Community

My fall online classes are ending this week, and the groups are loathe to leave each other.  They've bonded terrifically this semester, which often happens in these classes.  Somehow, online learning can foster a kind of intimacy among writers that I don't always find in in-person classes. 


They are exchanging email addresses and committing to exchange work too, after we end.  I am glad--it's a strange myth among writers that we need to go it alone.

I believe writers need community to thrive.

A blog reader from New York wrote me last week about this.  She has joined two writing groups and loves the feedback, but she says she has a challenge.  It's hard to discipline herself to write.  "It appears to me that I might be a one-on-one person that needs a writing companion to be accountable to for my writing," she says. 
 
Many writers feel this way.  I've been in monthly writing groups and weekly writing groups, and I love the feedback, but I also need other structures to keep myself going as a writer.  One is online classes--I teach them, but I also take them.  I've just signed up for one starting in February.  The accountability of submitting work each week is precious. 

I also work with several writing partners who I met in online classes.  They don't live close to me, so we can't meet in person, but we like each other's feedback and we're determined to keep writing, so we send each other chapters or scenes each week. 

Why do we believe the myth that we need to go it alone?  As the blog reader said, "Things come up that detour me from writing."  For me, having that writing partner waiting helps me figure out what my next sentence will be.

For some of us, this is a season of giving
.  Give to yourself too.  Your weekly writing exercise is to make a list of 5-10 writers you could partner with.   Even just to check in every Sunday night by email or phone to say, "I wrote this week."  Or "I'm having trouble getting started.  Can you give me a prompt?"  You'll find this kind of simple sharing is a wonderful gift that busts the myth of artistic isolation.

We're all in a community.  Maybe you just need to find yours.      

The blog will be on holiday break for two weeks.  Have a happy new year!