Write Alone But Don’t Be a Loner

I read an article some time ago (I can’t remember by whom) that said all writers are “loners”. The premise of course, was part truth—part sarcasm.

If you want to write, then yes, you really should be introverted. That’s what gives creative focus. Writers write till we’ve laid it all out on paper. Like Stephen King said, it’s only after our first messy drafts, do we then “open the door” to the critics. Too soon and they’ll stifle all creative zeal; they’ll push for editing before we’ve finished experimenting.

Hence the maxim:

We write first for ourselves and the audience later.

But try writing in a vacuum. Unless you’ve an encyclopedic mind and a capacity for outstanding invention, it’s all but impossible to shroud one’s thoughts with any credibility. Credibility sells.

In my opinion, that’s because you lose all perspective in the world. Dialogue for example, works best only when cemented in reality. Dialogue after all is “human speak”.

This grounding only comes by surrounding yourself with as many people as you can: at coffee shops, shopping centers, the commute, walks in the park (exercise tracks are a great place for gossip), the hairstylist, the movies …

I spoke earlier about the notebook and camera as tools for creativity. Well, by listening to and observing, as Richard Attenborough would say, “humans in their natural environment”, that’s where the stuff for paper scraps and zoomed out pictures derives.

As a writer keep your ears open, nudge into conversations, pick up accents and idioms; equally just sit back and watch. Manners of dress and posture are absolutely fascinating. 

Writing is very much a social businesses. A writer’s head is never alone. And I must admit, I have to get out there much more.