Writing is a solitary activity. I find I have to make an effort to keep it from being an isolating activity. I write more and better when I keep in regular contact with other writers. For one thing, if I’m expected to bring a piece of writing to share, I have to get my butt in the chair and my fingers on the keyboard. For another, I’m encouraged by speaking with people who get it, people who will celebrate with me if I say I managed to find time for writing this week, rather than people who will look with at my messy house with an arched eyebrow upon receiving such information.
Even if I’m only meeting with other writers for an hour in which we hardly speak, but rather sit with our individual laptops and spiral notebooks, I notice the boost. When I’m home alone,using time I’ve carved out that’s supposed to be dedicated to writing and nothing else, it’s so easy to slack. It’s so easy to tell myself I’ll sit at the computer after I get the next load of laundry in the washer, or after I do one of any of the other thousand chores staring me in the face, or after I read my email, then check a couple of web sites. But when I meet with other writers, I feel accountable for getting the words on the page. I’ll get caught if I cheat.
One of the best books I’ve read that addresses both aspects of the writing life, the solitary and the social, is Pat Schneider’s “Writing Alone and With Others.” She gives excellent and realistic advice about making the most positive use of both situations.