Monday, August 6, 2012

Breaking free of the solitary mentality

It's easy to forget as writers that we do not undertake this journey on our own.
The first blog piece I ever wrote was the result of a lengthy correspondence with a writer friend about a malady I dubbed Writer's Isolation. It's a malaise that targets even the most productive writer and its symptoms include: frustration, despair, and a sense of overwhelming loneliness even in the midst of our greatest times of creativity. Two years later I find this continues to be one of the most common plagues affecting the writers I am in contact with, including me.

The writer's life is not a sentence to solitary confinement...

Anyone who has been writing for any length of time can attest that ours is largely a solitary pursuit. We tuck ourselves away in our “offices,” turn on our favorite playlist, and ultimately cut ourselves off from this world in order to cross over to another. Even though we start out with the noblest of intensions, these journeys never come without a price. Writing requires focus, dedication, passion, and a dream that cannot fully be understood by those who aren’t writers. While family and friends may offer a tremendous amount of support, they have a hard time relating to the stress that results from spending long hours alone at the keyboard.

This is why it is vital for writers to connect with other writers. Whether it's through online support, a local critique group, or becoming a member of a larger writing organization, we need to be in frequent communication with other writers about more than how many words we've written or cups of coffee we've poured in one writing session. We need individuals with whom we can be honest, and with whom we feel safe discussing our highest and lowest moments in life.

...Each of us has a role to play within a larger community!

I met many of my writing companions during my time as a member of the Christian Writers Guild and I have many more who are a part of Inspire Christian Writers and other writing organizations. Add in the friends I've made at various conferences around the country, and the community of writers I've joined through Twitter and Facebook, and I have absolutely no excuse not to reach out when I'm struggling. Chances are we rarely, if ever, meet in person, but just knowing we’re on similar journeys goes a long way in forming a bond akin to those of firefighters, soldiers, and police officers. We need to remember we're in the trenches together. We're a part of a unique community who can specifically encourage each other, brainstorm, congratulate accomplishments, swap stories about our real lives, and, as a result, be reminded of why we chose this path in the first place: To inspire others and ourselves.

This also means that we need to be careful in our interactions with each other. It doesn't matter if we're offering a bit of advice, giving a critique, or just chatting for the sake of chatting, our goal should always be to build up and encourage, never to cut down or discourage. Published or not, we're all part of the same team.
No matter what our vocation or location, we were never meant to undertake life’s journey on our own. I think Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 says it best, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls alone and has no one to help him up.”

When in doubt, remember: You are never alone.

If you find yourself struggling with Writer’s Isolation, don’t drop your pen in despair. Seek out a fellow traveler who can help you through whatever sludge is dragging your feet down. But most importantly, remember the greatest promise of all: “I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)

No comments:

Post a Comment