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?