Lots of people see writing as a solitary act. It’s the image of a bookish type hunched over their work, solely in their head for days on end. For the work itself, this is true. However, there are wonderful times when we can stretch our creativity a bit more and actually spend time with people and get work done at the same time.
When I was in high school, my absolute favorite thing to do was to go to the Starbucks down the street with my best friends and write for HOURS on end. We would crush out thousands of words, laughing over the ridiculous antics our characters were getting into while taking breaks here and there to chat about our lives (we didn’t go to the same school).
In college, my friends and I did the same. I wasn’t a partier or a bar-crawler, but I did love spending quality time with my besties over a great mug of mocha from the local coffee shop with my laptop for comfort. Again, we’d crush thousands of words, maybe do homework, and laugh about what was said in some class or another.
So, when I got out of school settings, where friends are built-in and available around the same times I am, it got harder to get that experience. Sure, I could still go to a coffee shop and crush out words. (Less so now that I’m so much my own critic) But, the friends are hours away or busy with their own lives. Plans must be made weeks in advance and can’t just be a quick “Hey, I’m bored. Wanna hit up Starbucks for a writing session?”
Luckily, I can still get those choice moments every once and a while. I can still get a friend together here and there to sit in a coffee shop for an hour or two to write. We’ll chat, work on our own projects, then chat some more. This weekend I was able to write double what I usually can in a sitting thanks to this setup. I don’t think it’s solely about the coffee shop either. I think I truly do thrive with a writing buddy system.
I’m so lucky to have fostered various forms of writing community in my life. I have friends who also write, I have a great critique group every couple of weeks, and I have a network of writers from courses I’ve taken over the past couple of years.
If anyone tells you that writing is a solitary act, they are lying. I have found a community in writing to be almost vital in keeping a creative spirit alive and well. So talk to people when you take that course online, meet people at that writing conference, and join a critique group even if you’re “just a casual writer.” Creativity thrives the more breath is given to it.