You Don't Write Alone

May 17, 2017

You Don’t Write Alone

 

 

When someone asks, “What do you do for a living?” and you reply, “I’m a writer,” they immediately paint a picture of you all alone, sitting at your keyboard, sipping coffee, and having no one to converse with during the day. No breaks, no interruptions, just sitting at home, and working in your pajamas.

 

Quite the opposite is true.

 

Of course we take breaks. We need to rest our eyes from too much time in front of the computer screen, rejuvenate our thoughts and story line. Yes, we also have interruptions. Even when we switch our phone to silent, there are emails, social media and that rare knock at the front door. Household chores are always calling to you and if you have pets, they need to be walked, feed, and entertained.

As far as writing alone, to some extent, yes. But overall, no. Writers share (or should share) their work with other writers to get feedback. This is how we learn what is working in our story and what needs to be fixed. Usually this is done once a month in a coffee shop or at one of the writer’s houses. We converse with our editors after (sometimes during) they have marked up our work in track changes or with a red pen. We also touch base with our audience – that lovely group of people anxiously waiting to read our words. This is done mainly through social media, but also through book signings, attending book fairs, and special events.

 

During the course of writing a book we also engage with experts. If our story revolves around a police officer, we connect with an officer to ask questions, get details, and learn as much as we can so we create a believable character. This holds true for non-fiction as well. If we are working on a biography about a soldier who was a prisoner of war, we interview their family members, fellow comrades, neighbors, and the soldier if he is still living.

 

Lastly, not in a crazy way (for most of us writers that is), we talk to our characters. We ask them hundreds of questions and toss many ‘what if’ scenarios at them. We need to know every detail about them, although many of their characteristics and traits they share with us never make it onto the page, we, as writers still need to know what makes them tick. Why do they act and respond the way they do? These conversations may be brief, they may be lengthy, either way they are necessary. 

 

So, yes, the actual part of writing is done alone, but on the grand scale, a writer does not write alone.

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