Somehow the idea of chronic isolation and the caricature of the starving artist have become attached to writing. At times it feels as though loneliness is perceived as a rite of passage for want-to-be authors. Although the act of writing itself can be quite isolating, writing as a profession or hobby doesn’t need to be.
Writing is an activity based on relationships – between readers, editors, and other writers. It is this last relationship that is perhaps most important for aspiring authors. In all artistic endeavors, but especially writing, it’s vital to create a community where beginners and those well-rehearsed in the craft can come together and support each other. The isolated writer may be a trope, but it doesn’t have to be a reality.
Writing communities are built on mutual respect for each other’s work and the communal goal of improvement. They allow for a safe environment to share work and seek new perspectives and ideas. Being a part of a community takes a writer out of their own head (and story) and helps keep them grounded in the knowledge of why they write and who they write for.
The experience of sharing a creative pursuit with others can combat much of the loneliness that often accompanies long days at the keyboard. The job of a writer is not just to construct captivating tales of heroic deeds or horrible battles, but to pass on and encourage the craft of storytelling. This isn’t something accomplished through isolation.
Perhaps writers will forever be thought of as brooding souls looking for a way to write themselves out of their misery, but writing is not a selfish art. It the process of telling stories, yes, but also of inspiring others to carry on the tradition. This is something accomplished through community.