Writers often work in solitude, but there are those times when community is great, just like for duckling families. Critique partners and groups offer invaluable benefits for the mostly lone writer.
By Shelley Widhalm
Writers work in solitude even if they do write-ins, because once they enter the story, the world falls away.
But they also likely need community—that can come from those write-ins where you meet for coffee or the like, chat a bit and start writing, as well as writing groups to critique each other’s work and writing conferences to learn about the craft.
I’ve been involved in all three and learned three important lessons from being around other writers.
First is Vision
I cannot work in a bubble.
I need others to point out where my writing gets muddy, my characters fall flat, my plot goes sideways or my pacing is s-l-o-w. I can revise and revise again, but there are things I miss because I’m too close to my work.
For that reason, I like working with a critique partner, where we trade work, or a writing group to get feedback on what’s not working in my manuscript. A partner or group can offer suggestions on how to fix the issues and ideas for making the story or characters even better—things I didn’t consider as I drafted my story.
I then like hiring an editor, either at the developmental or copy editing level, to get that professional line-by-line view of my work—editors are paid to pay attention to every nuance of a manuscript to help get it polished and ready for publication.
Second is Mission
I cannot work without motivation.
Writing is hard work, and it takes discipline. If I didn’t have a writing community to encourage me to keep going, I may take longer timeouts from disappointments. If I have to self-talk to pick myself back up, my thoughts might go circular, whereas a friend will tell me, “Don’t give up. I know you don’t want to. You’re a writer.”
For instance, wanting to be traditionally published means I face rejections from literary agents who immediately say no, or they ask for a partial or the full manuscript, then say no.
Being able to share that rejection conundrum and find that I’m not alone helps me keep going.
Third is Story
I cannot work without inspiration.
I find the successes of other writers who self-publish or get traditionally published a push for me to keep working toward my own successes: if they can do it, so can I.
With time, persistence and patience, writers can achieve their goals. If they don’t right away, they keep trying—failing is giving up, but stopping something and moving to something else is not failing.
Many times I’ve wanted to give up, but then, as a friend asked, how would you feel without writing? I can’t answer that question, because I’d feel empty.
Writing is what inspires me. It’s my mission statement. It’s my vision for being CEO of Writing, while Zoey, my miniature dachshund, is the CEO of Cuteness.