Saturday, May 21, 2016

Lies They Tell Writers, Part 28: Writing is a Lonely Life.

You’ll often hear it said that writing is lonely. It takes hours, days, weeks, months, years spent alone at the keyboard (or typewriter or notebook) to spin a story, write a novel, sort out history, create a poem, construct a magazine article, or whatever it is you write or intend to write.
Which is true, sort of.
But I would use a different word to describe writing time: solitary.
That’s because while I am usually alone when I write, I don’t find writing lonely. I spend that time conversing with characters, getting inside their heads, reading their thoughts, understanding what makes them tick, waiting to see what they’ll do next. That’s a lot of what makes writing fiction fun.
Even when writing nonfiction—a magazine article, or history—it usually comes down to living with people in your mind and attempting to understand why they do what they do or did what they did and how that fits into the big picture.
Poetry, too, requires immersing yourself in a world of words, of sounds, of rhythms, of ideas, of images. Which is anything but lonely. In fact, it can get right crowded and noisy in there.
Finally, if you want to know the truth, sometimes—oftentimes—the “loneliness” of spending time in those other worlds is more enjoyable than living in the real world.