A few years ago, I came across this quote:
“Writing is a solitary occupation.” -Bernard Cornwell
And I was all like…
“Oh yeah! That’s me. I’m a confident writer who don’t need anyone.”
But, as I focused more on polishing my craft, and pursuing being a novelist as a career, the idea of flying solo was not nearly as inviting. The more I wrote, the less I realized I actually knew about writing. And last year, I wrote quite a lot.
- Wrote 98,000 word novel.
- Edited another that was about the same length.
- Published a fictional devotional.
- Wrote a 20K novella.
Growing up overseas, I didn’t have very many people to read my work. Certainly no professionals.
Without anyone to really challenge my writing, I was treading water, when I needed someone to teach me how how to dive.
I realized that while writing may be a solitary occupation, it is not a solitary career. Or dream, for that matter.
Returning to the USA, I had the opportunity to meet other writers. Professional authors. And even get plugged into a critique group.
To some, “edit” may seem like a dirty word—but I thrived on the critical feedback.
When most of my time had been spent writing alone, it was an amazing new experience to have other people reading my work—and enjoying it. I was taught so much through their feedback, and saw my writing improve by leaps and bounds. Instead of being overwhelmed by all of the work needed to improve the manuscript, I saw it as an opportunity to make the story even better. To flesh out characters and deepen plotlines.
I was learning how to dive.
You’re sitting at a desk, papers and notebooks scattered in front of you, with a computer nestled in their midst like a crowning jewel. The door is locked, and the only other beating heart in the room belongs to the cat curled up at your ankles.
You spend hours in that room, letting your hasty fingers tell stories and evoke emotion as you’re swept away to another time. Another place. Another life.
Sound familiar? Its how most authors spend the majority of their days. Sure, the setting might change, and the choice of furry companion, but it’s generally the same.
You. Alone. Creating worlds within your head.
But, that’s only the first step of many. And as authors, I think we often forget just how important the rest of it is. The fellowship. The support.
Whether its that email you get from an editor with pages of comments. Or a phone call from a critique partner who needs a brainstorming session. Or a husband (or Mom! In my case) who surprises you with lunch.
These are the brick-and-mortar pieces of your writing journey. Your coaches and swim team.
Writing may seem like a solitary journey at times, but it doesn’t have to be a lonely one. <click to tweet>
Lately, I’ve realized how much all of this really applies to more than just writing. Life can be a solitary occupation—especially if you are like me.
I was always the one who tucked everything inside. When faced with a problem, I would try to fix it myself. Or better yet, lose myself in my writing rather than dealing with the issue. I did that when I lived overseas and struggled with loneliness And I’m still doing it to this day with my Lyme disease.
But, maybe I don’t have to. Maybe, just like with writing, He doesn’t intend us to carry these burdens alone. Not to stay silent, but to find help in those around us. Supported not solitary. Together. <click to tweet>
Perhaps weakness isn’t in showing our vulnerability—perhaps weakness is in trying to go it alone. Because together, we can be stronger.
Writing—and the trials we go through—are sometimes solitary occupations, but they do not lead to a solitary life. Our words can change a heart and impact a soul.
And that is certainly not something we want to do alone.
Is your writing a solitary endeavor? Where have you found the most support, or are you still looking for people to encourage you in your work? Please share your story below and take the first step in connecting to a writing community.