It is always a lonely practice, this writing life. In more ways than just needing to concentrate in a room alone. We question our characters: Are they two-dimensional? We question our plots and subplots: Do they keep the pace going? Are our themes recognizable but not too obvious? (We never want to get “caught writing”.) The list goes on and on in an unbroken chain. And then there are our insecurities about our writing. Who can we show this to? Who can we trust to tell the truth and will they be laughing at us on the inside? Seeing us as incapable but not wanting to tell us. Who, what, how, when, WHY?
Why? Why do we write? Because we HAVE to. There is no way around it. Sometimes we wish there were. It is almost like a curse we were borne with. Sometimes-in those beautiful moments-it is a blessing.
There is a school of thought in psychology called behaviorism. The Behaviorists believe that through various stages of reward, certain behaviors are further entrenched into our psyche; variant rewards being stronger than expected rewards. The more unpredictable the reward, the more the behavior is strengthened. This has also been shown in gambling and certain other behaviors.
It may sound like I’m comparing writing to an addiction. I didn’t set out to do that, but in a way-isn’t it? Do we think about it every second of the day and night? Do we wonder when our next session will be? Do we hold onto the beautiful moments as we get through the tough times? Do we get shaky when we don’t write? Yes. Yes, yes and yes!
There is a great piece the author Jamie Grove wrote at How Not To Write which ties together writing on writing from the great Joseph Conrad called “A Writer Must Believe.”
Writing is a lonely business, but we must believe in our abilities as writers. We must believe, when all seems disjointed and out of reach, that we alone can reclaim the broken chains, link by link, and piece them back together. And we must believe that in the end, those chains will loop through our subplots, our characters, arc over our main plots and turn the wheels of our themes into a beautiful narrative that we have dreamed of creating since before we can remember.
We may at times feel lonely, but we are not alone. We all work together for something greater than ourselves; and that act is the unwritten symphony of a million keys working together to make the great symphony of our craft that will reach to and touch that one soul, sitting alone, reading our words and connecting to each one who has read it before and then after and through a great arc-back to us.
Keep Calm and Type On!
This article Why We Must Believe first appeared on The Point of the Quill.