People traditionally think of writing as a solitary task. And, while I suppose the action of writing itself can be solitary (and not even that piece of it has to be), there’s little else about it that is.
I just got home from a fantastic two-hour session with my writer’s group and not a bit of writing got done. Instead of writing, we just talked. It was perfect. So, today, I’d like to talk about the importance of finding your tribe as both a creative and a writer.
In previous posts, I’ve mentioned that I often feel different from the people around me. I chalk this up to being a writer and just simply being focused on different things than other people are.
I have friends from all over with interests, talents and experiences as varied as the rainbow. But having a tribe of writers and creatives has been vital to my life as an artist. Having people around me who can dive deep into topics in a way a writer or former English major can is something I require like water. Especially now that I don’t have daily conversations about the deeper meaning of a sentence or a book, I find that I need it even more to feel whole and to force me to think with all parts of my brain.
It took a long time to find people with whom I have similar interests. By the time I hit my late twenties, I had found like-minded women, creatives in a variety of outlets, who shared similar perspectives about the world. And then, a few years ago, I was brought into a writer’s group filled with women who wrote everything from fantasy and sci-fi to romance.
The women in my writers’ group are multi-talented. Many of them write and also draw or paint. They write poetry and genre hop and self-publish or have deals with publishers. Our writing styles and our journeys are very different, but we come together in a fabulous, geeky, nerdy force of joy and positivity.
Today wasn’t a productive day as far as writing goes. But, it was productive for me as I recharged and reconnected with my people. We talked about writing a bit, shared ideas and updates on where we are with our projects. But mostly, we talked about life and joked about things we’ve seen or experienced. This was not a day about writing. Instead, it was a day of community, of connecting as human beings.
I don’t think this experience is unique, at least it shouldn’t be. True, I’ve heard horror stories about writers’ groups filled with people who are competitive and put each other down. But that’s not our group. I feel nothing but uplifted and capable when I leave the coffee shop after one of our sessions, no matter whether it be a writing day or social outing.
People who think that writing is a solitary task are mistaken. Writing is a collective effort. It may take a village to raise a child. But, writing a book is kind of like raising a child (or at least kind of like going through pregnancy – I think) and it takes a village of supporters to help you get/stay on track and find your way back when you’ve gone off the rails. Even Percy Shelley, Mary Shelley, Wordsworth and co. hung out together in the woods in the middle of winter trading stories and, more or less, sharing inspiration.
If you’re looking for one tip to help advance as a writer, well, I would recommend finding writers (or fellow artists of whatever your preferred medium) and connecting with them as friends and fellow creatives. In such connections, you will find people who challenge you, but who will also lift you up and keep you focused. Life’s tough and it takes a village to keep a creative going in the face of adversity and, truthfully, just in the face of everyday life.