5 min read
We can all picture it: A lonely writer typing away for hours with a single glass of whiskey and no company. They’re ghastly pale and it seems that they have hardly any friends. Even when you see them at a party they’re wearing a perpetual grimace because they hate people and god knows they would rather be writing than wasting their precious time socializing.
This idea is invasive and not true at all. I’ve been a writer my whole life, and this kind of thinking slowed my career down in more ways than I realized. If you think that it’s true, then I’ve got plenty of reasons why it’s wrong and how it’s harming you. Let’s dive in.
Erases the Existence of Editors
Even the best writers need an editor, and really a good writer should be capable of both jobs. Certainly, there are a select few writers who don’t revise their work much after it’s finished, but that’s far from the norm. Revision is a key part of the writing process.
For me, personally, I used to edit a piece of writing over and over. I would even prevent myself from sharing my work because it never felt finished. I lived by a quote by a French poet whose work I honestly never even read, but he was a famous poet so he must have been right… right? A younger me might have even tattooed his words on my skin, but now I am glad I didn’t.
A poem is never finished, only abandoned. ~ Paul Valéry
While I think Paul is correct in some ways, it unfortunately feeds into the idea that your work is never good enough. That isn’t helpful for new writers.
These days, I have moved on from that mindset and recognize that while all my work can be subject to change and revision, it won’t help anyone if it’s in a folder on my laptop collecting metaphorical dust.
Creates a False Sense of Competition
I’ve said this in previous articles, but I feel like I need to say it again. Writing is not as competitive as people think and if you’re flexible on the type of writing you’re willing to do, you can make a career out of it. That said, you can’t do it alone. Other writers are your potential employers, coworkers, and friends!
Every single word you have ever read was written by someone. Not just novels and poems. Your textbooks, instructions, social media captions, websites, and billboards. Those words were allwritten by someone. And you know what else? Some of the people who wrote them probably don’t even consider themselves a writer, but it was part of their job so they did it.
I lived my whole life believing that being a “writer” was impossible. It’s just not a real job. Even though was my favourite thing, I never bothered to try making a career out of it.
Since then, I have realized I was horribly wrong and I am so glad I’ve finally decided to pursue it. Now I get paid to write social media posts, blog articles, and even edit comics or poetry. Sometimes I get to ghostwrite for other freelance writers, which just goes to reinforce the premise that other writers are your friends and not your competition.
Prevents any Growth
If you’re a lonely writer, you have no one to give you advice and feedback. You will never get better. Sure, you can read books by other writers and try to edit your writing yourself while implementing new techniques, but you will always have a biased perspective.
The best writing is collaborative. There are whole teams of writers for TV shows or for advertising. Textbooks also have anywhere from 3 to 5 authors sometimes. If you pulled a novel off your bookshelf, I’m sure you’d see at least 5 names in the acknowledgments at the end.
Reduces your Productivity
A lonely writer might be able to write and edit on their own, but they still need ideas. In fact, lots of writers often say that when they are locked away, they struggle to write because their days become monotonous and dull. Inspiration strikes a lot more often when you’re actively living your life.
Many of my best articles have come from conversations with friends and often other writers. Other people also keep me accountable and that makes me more productive as well.
Makes Rejection Harder
As writers, we will inevitably face rejection at some point. That’s not a judge of your character, but it can feel like it especially if you’re just starting out. Who do you vent to when you get yet another rejection?
Venting is an important coping mechanism. When you open up about your challenges, you might get a fresh perspective from a friend while also social support to keep going. Both of these things are important in a career like writing where the imposter syndrome is real.
I remember as a teenager how I used to send so few poems and articles out into the world. After finding a publication I loved, I’d craft a perfect piece and send it away feeling optimistic only to feel crushed a few weeks later when it didn’t make the cut. When I got those early rejections, it was hard, but now I’ve learned better how to shrug them off and keep writing.
These days, I celebrate a rejection! It’s evidence that I’m trying and putting my work out there. Eventually, it will find a home, and if it doesn’t then I’ll just write something new and try again.
While there are times I can be a lonely writer and I sit at my computer for far too long, my best work is created with the help of others. Writing is not a lonely job, and it’s time to stop seeing it that way. If you want to be a professional writer, you need to start making those connections and getting an outside perspective on your work.
This article was also published in Inspired Writer.