The Solitary Writer

Going through the feedback from my amazing Beta readers I am reminded yet again how much the idea of the Solitary Writer is a myth. And not just a garden variety myth but a harmful one.

Perhaps there are a few rare geniuses out there who can produce brilliant works without any critical feedback, but most of us need an outside perspective. A pair (or three or four) of trusted eyes is invaluable to help us gain distance from our work and see what is and is not working. That feedback isn’t gospel, but it is a good starting point for thinking more deeply (or at least differently) about our characters, world, and story.

Many writers start their journey believing it will be a lonely one in which they must toil in secret, hoarding their words and stories until they are “ready” (read: perfect), a day which will likely never come without the wisdom and support of fellow writers. What a shame.

In most professions, collaboration is not only important but expected, except (it seems) in the world of art. The idea of the artist alone in their garret (or writing shed) is powerful. There is a part of every artist that wishes to believe we can create something amazing drawing only from our inner well of creativity, something that is ours and ours alone. Buying wholly into that vision, though, implies we have nothing to learn and nowhere to go. Our talent is innate, but also inert.

Having someone else look at our works in progress and say “hey, but what about…?” does not diminish either our creative ownership nor our original vision. It sharpens it. Builds it up. Makes it better.

So, today I am grateful to my fellow writers and especially to my Beta readers who have given so generously of their time and thoughts.

You are making me better, and I hope I am doing the same for you.

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