Writing is viewed as a solitary activity. Some writers believe their isolation is what defines them, and even imagine that socializing would not only detract from their uniqueness, but diminish their creativity. Mingle with the herd, and you’ll become one of them. Call it the writer’s fear of becoming “normal.”
But these folks have it all wrong. We are social beings who need to interact with others. What’s more, social contact improves our craft, as this piece from PsychCentral explains:
As creative people, we need others to see the work we do (after all art is meant to be seen), to give us feedback and also to normalize some of the chaos that comes with the creative territory.
Aside from these internal benefits, being a part of a community of creatives can also expand your audience reach, increase the chances of doing collaborative work (in which you can discover a brand new part of yourself and a new method to create) and extend your creative network. A community can give you the opportunity to experience art and creativity from the various perspectives of all the other people surrounding you, at a collective level rather than the individual one you can provide for yourself.
I know I’ve benefited from my participation in the Charlotte Writer’s Club and my monthly critique group, as well as various writing workshops. Even when you’re stuck in the office, you can exchange views and ideas by posting comments on writing blogs.
Naturally, we also need time alone to think and create. The ideal is a balance of separateness and socialization.
Andrew Nelson Lytle advised us to “throw out the radio and take down the fiddle from the wall.” By that, he meant that art, entertainment, and companionship were not meant to be separate things. Art should be a social, interactive endeavor that not only engages everyone who participates, but beckons all toward beauty and a sense of connectedness. To me, that’s the ultimate aim of any art.