The Solitary Nature of Writing

I’ve been sitting at my desk since early morning. The sun came up but stays hidden behind the clouds. My back hurts and I’m getting hungry, after too many cups of coffee. I need to stand up and stretch.

But Noah, the protagonist in my story, won’t let me take a break. He is trying to find some closure and I don’t know if he will. His stubbornness is making me crazy. Why are you such a blind fool? I yell at him in my mind. My phone buzzes. Again. Finally, with a great wrenching, I pull myself back into the “real” world. I hate to leave Noah and his problems alone. I’ll be back, I whisper.

The life of a writer favorably compares to that of a hermit. Someone who enjoys spending hours cut off from reality—and other humans—is predisposed to being a writer, in my opinion. The “civilians” in our lives may try to understand our compulsion to create settings, characters, and twisting plots, but most never come to grips with it. Small children, of course, are exempted from being expected to understand.

Is there a way to do both? To write prolifically and maintain an active social and interpersonal life? I admit to often being torn between the two. Although getting words down the way I want is incredibly rewarding, I treasure my time with family and friends. A balancing act is required. Writing is not like other jobs; it can take over one’s life, especially while in the midst of a project. Taking a break means having to review and basically start over on return. And far too often, when I do return, I stare blankly at the screen, finally write a few words, read them, and give up in disgust.

When I first discovered online writing communities, I didn’t think I would get too involved. I’ve never been much of a joiner but thought I could use some exposure. Within an incredibly short time, I was hooked. I read literally hundreds of stories in a variety of genres and writing styles, filled with wit, wonder, and wild imagination. I met people from all walks of life, from around the world; their comments and support of my writing gave me new motivation and joy in the craft.

Now my favorite site is shutting down. Yes, there are other sites where I have been lurking around in the shadows, but I’m not quite ready to commit. It’s too soon. I must grieve for a while first.

In the meantime, I am back to my solitary writing habits: bursts of crazy fluid energy followed by long dry periods of doldrums. At least now I know I’m not the only one who does that.

Lessons learned: Writing is an isolated pursuit, but taking the leap to put one’s self out there can bring many rewards. I feel privileged knowing the people who have devoted time to the One Million Project. And I am honored to write this blog. Even though I pulled my hair out doing it. Thank you and good night.