Writers Connecting

I have been away, not only from my home, but from my writing. 

At least, I've been away from the writing writing part of writing, the actual putting words on paper part.

But I've been doing a couple other activities of vital importance, the first being brainstorming and planning and the second being connecting with other writers, which is what I want to talk about today.

Often when I lead a workshop, I  start out by considering the importance of connecting. This surprises people, because they expect me to begin by talking about choosing a pen, or finding the perfect journal, or carving out time for writing. When I talk about connecting, I'm actually talking about  a multi-faceted practice which includes:

* Connecting with the work

* Connecting with other writers

* Connecting with family and friends to gather their support

* Connecting your work with the world

All of them are important.  But sometimes we writers, being solitary creatures, tend to forget how important connecting with other writers is, how inspiring and motivating it can be.  I've spent part of the last week, from Thursday to Sunday, at Room to Write, the twice-yearly writer's retreat at Scarritt Bennett in Nashville. It is held in  April and October, and it offers exactly what is advertised: room in which to write on a gorgeous campus in the middle of Nashville.   You retreat from the world in order to have time and energy to connect with your writing, which is why people sign up for the event.

And yet, they get so much more.

Through connecting with other writers at meals and optional events, they get the invaluable sense of being a part of a creative community, where everyone speaks the same language and nobody thinks you're nuts if you admit that sometimes your characters talk more loudly to you than the real, breathing people in your life.

It is easy to forget how important this is.

We're such solitary creatures, writers are.  We have to be, in order to get words on the page. Most of us can't get much work done when people surround us, and so the natural inclination is to shut the door and stay inside our writing caves.

But the rewards of connection with other writers are so great, its well worth it to open that door and step out into the big, wide world. 

How do you connect with other writers?  Is it important to you?


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9 Responses to Writers Connecting

  1. Sarah Allen 04/13/2011 at 10:08 #

    Very important! Thats why I love things like blogs and twitter…I’ve learned more and connected with more awesome people that way than I have in any other.

    Sarah Allen
    (my creative writing blog)

  2. J E Fritz 04/13/2011 at 13:07 #

    Connecting with other writers is very important to me. The only way to grow in any field is by sharing ideas and communicating. In the past few months, I’ve learned a lot and my work has improved for it.

  3. Don 04/13/2011 at 20:37 #

    I have to agree with you on all of the above points. Writers certainly are solitary creatures, and sometimes too much so, so your point of connecting with other writers, family and friends is of extreme importance to not only for ones writing, but ones sanity as well! I only wish, since I’m somewhat home-bound, that I could also go on writing retreats like Scarritt Bennett. It sounds great, absolutely wonderful and maybe someday, just may, I might….. sigh!

  4. Charlotte Dixon 04/13/2011 at 21:51 #

    Sarah, J.E. and Don, thanks for commenting. And the very fact that all of you dropped by to chat sort of confirms my point, the thought occurs to me. We writers crave connection!

  5. Trisha 04/13/2011 at 23:55 #

    I’ve been connecting with other writers a lot lately :) But right now I need to disconnect from my work, and take a short break. I need to, logically, but I’m not sure I actually WILL. hehe.

  6. J.D. 04/14/2011 at 04:36 #

    Welcome back Charlotte.

  7. Charlotte Dixon 04/14/2011 at 09:38 #

    Trisha, sometimes disconnecting is good, too. Also, the whole connecting with writers thing can go a bit too far and then you don’t get any writing done. As with everything, it is a balance!

    J.D., thank you!!!!

  8. Giulietta the Muse 04/15/2011 at 06:32 #

    Hi Charlotte,

    A much-needed post since writing can be an isolating adventure. Like the Nashville room idea. My sister-in-law lives there so I should check it out in the future.

    Connection in general is a lost art. I do as much “in-person” everything as I can. Run small face-to-face life shops and honestly the topic is less important than the action of being together in a circle and the energy that creates (not a fan of the standard elem school model of starting at the back’s of folks heads.)

    Got some good friends who are writers and just being in their presence gives me new ideas for essays.

    Glad you enjoyed the Nash …


  9. Charlotte Dixon 04/15/2011 at 09:41 #

    Hey Giulietta, Oh, come to Nashville for the next Room to Write! It’ll be in October, and also again next April. I’ve been so immersed in online activities that I’ve neglected the in-person to some extent, but I’m coming back around to it. I’ve got a local networking group I’ve joined and I’m going to be co-hosting a series of Wealthy Writer days at the end of the summer. So I’m with you, connecting in person is great!

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