Monday, October 17, 2011

Individual vs. Group

With NaNoWriMo coming up soon, I've been thinking about how we write. It seems that writers are paradoxical. We have critique groups and forum groups, where we write and edit together. And those connections are fantastic. We get feedback and, perhaps more importantly, we create a community of people who are going through the same things as we are.

But when we write, we also like solitude. Sometimes we just have to disconnect the internet, lock the door, and shut out the world.

Why do we do this? Why do we need these two things? Is it human nature to want solitude but crave company as well?

Maybe. I think it's because when we write, we are drawn into our heads and live there for a while. We transfer a bit of our consciousness into something that doesn't back talk, doesn't ask you to take out the trash, it's just there. But when we resurface it's like a withdrawal. We need those people to draw us out of our heads and make us look at the big picture again.

What do you think? Why do writers require group involvement and solitude?


  1. Hmm, I've been thinking about this too, because I started reading Charles Baxter's The Art of Subtext last night. He starts with the image of a writer in a book-lined room, one window showing a framed view of the outside world. Baxter suggests this major metaphor for the creative life spans many cultures and histories; it also suggests the conflicted desire for aloneness inside loneliness. It's a powerful image.

  2. My crit group leader likes to say: "Writing is an act of isolation. But writers don't have to be isolated."

    I think she's very wise. :)