It’s Alive!

Writing is solitary. We enter the world, look around, and something grabs hold of us, demands that we tell its story. We sit, and we write. We read what we wrote, we write some more. Sometimes, we think we have reached perfection, or near to it, other times we think that the story, the way we are writing it, the way we are telling it, is not coming to life. So, we read books, we go on-line, and we try to do better.

I learn in bursts. My grasp of the craft is not incremental, it’s stepwise. I learn best by spending time with my work, reading it, asking questions about it. I’m very satisfied with where my current project is headed, I see what it will be, I see how to make it that way. What I did not see was the beginning, where it began. I have learned over the last two weeks that I was attacking it in the wrong way, but I will save that post for another day.

Writing is solitary.

But, it is only after my last round of brainstorming with my writing group that my opening is finally manifesting in my mind — it’s coming to life. Without that discussion, the volleying of ideas, the bantering, the rebuttals, the encouragement, I would still be reading a scene that didn’t do what I wanted it to do. Now, I am letting my subconscious build. It sends me reflections that I mold and manipulate, and then send back down for another round, until it will be ready for me to put down on paper.

Writing is solitary, but thank goodness I don’t have to do it alone.



16 thoughts on “It’s Alive!

  1. It is a good feeling when our work is at a point where we feel good about where it is. Writing is something that needs to be learned a little at a time. Often the things we learn take much time before we can truly make them our own.

  2. Thank heaven for writing groups. They are what has kept me going over the years. Social media has been a big help too. We do need each other in this lonely business.

    1. It’s fantastic Darlene that you have your methods for conquering the solitude!
      Blogging is the only inline networking I have yet ventured into, and I find it a great spot for dialogue.

  3. Do I envy you for having that feedback?…yes and no…I do all my writing completely solitary now, since in the past I got so muddled and thrown off my instincts that the results were less than satisfactory. It’s a bit like doing an ongoing writing exercise with friends…it’s fun, but never leads anywhere that is special…at least not for me. On the other hand, when one gets stuck on a particularly irritating problem, it’s nice to have a sounding board, someone with a different point of view. Tricky one, this solitary writer business.

    1. Hi, Maria. I find that I need to discuss my work rather frequently. Just talking about it out loud straightens out my thoughts. I will often times discuss with my mom – she’s a great sounding board. My husband stares at me like a fish out water, all nerves, not having any idea how to help me! lol.
      My group, however, can discuss technical aspects that a non-writer will not be able to help me with. They see things in a different light.
      I really like what Stephen Kind in On Writing said (and I keep quoting it, but it just hits in dead on, at least for me it does).
      Write the first draft with the door shut. Open it when editing.
      Not verbatim, but that’s the gist of it.

  4. Hi, I knd of miss the novelist group I used to attend. It split a while back, some huge altercation apparently, but for some reason my writing’s improved substantially since I stopped going. Now I more or less work alone.

    1. Interesting, Lawrence.
      Perhaps your group was not giving you the type of feedback you needed. If you leave a meeting deflated, I think they are not suited to you.
      Personally, a writing group has to leave me enthusiastic about my work. I want to leave energized, bursting with ideas that will lead me exactly where I want to be. Which means a lot of it depends on my own attitude and interpretations.
      And I also think finding the right group of people to work with is a challenge. A group can be a hinderance rather than liberating. I’m glad you are doing better without it, and that you also got to find that out.

  5. “Writing is solitary, but thank goodness I don’t have to do it alone.”

    Amen, sistah. πŸ˜‰

    It is a strange process, isn’t it? Like you (and others who commented), I need to work alone for most of the time–but thank goodness I have some close writing friends I can turn to when it’s _time_ (or I hit a wall).

    1. Hey Ev!!! πŸ™‚

      Yes, but what I’ve come to realize over the last year, is that I need to make sure I’m solid in wip before discussing it, otherwise I can go astray (it happened to me).
      It’s all a learning process, and then I forget some things, and need to learn them all over again! lol

  6. What a beautifully written post Jennifer! The writing process is so very difficult to describe to someone who is not a writer. I assume it would be different for everybody.
    I find that my learning comes from my actual writing. The more I write, the more I understand how my mind works and what works(or doesn’t work) on the page.
    I actually like the fact that writing is solitary. I consider myself neither a leader nor a follower so it’s the best vocation for me! πŸ˜‰

    1. Thanks, Nisha.

      It so different for each of us – sometimes when I’m discussing something with a member of my group I’m amazed at how different their process is from mine.

  7. I agree about writing is solitary, but we don’t have to do it alone. It’s so rewarding when we let our characters tell us their story, which has taken me way too long to figure out.

    I’m also amazed at the different processes people use as they write and edit.

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