A Misconception of Writers and the Writing Process?

Okay, so maybe there is truth to the idea that writers are introverted and like to be by themselves for 23 hours out of the day, but I also believe that at times this is a total misconception. I began to think of this when I was filling out the membership form for ALTA (translators–you should definitely join). Albeit, ALTA is for literary translating but in a sense my thoughts on this topic can apply to both writers and translators.

With the actual process of writing, I like to hide myself away in a too quiet library with stacks of books and notebooks serving as a barricade. The idea of writing in a cafe is just frightening to me! (although, plenty of writers like to toil away in public places). My research and translating is also usually done in these monastic like surroundings.

However, with that said, if I didn’t surround myself with writers who are both intelligent and usefully critical, my writing would suffer. We have a community and we are all writing different types of pieces (be it prose, poetry, non-fiction, articles). Our constructive viewpoints of each other’s work is immensely helpful. Also, the opportunity to bounce ideas off of one another is great. Without a group of people telling me: “Stop it! It doesn’t work! May I suggest–” or “This part here is really working,” my manuscript would be just terrible. On the flip-side, one must also be smart enough to filter out the nonsense he or she receives. As someone who is new to translating and a non-native speaker of the language they are translating from, being able to call upon outside help makes my translations even better. Instead of racking my brain over a single sentence, I can talk it out with a more experienced translator or talk to a native speaker to get their perspective. I am also fortunate enough to be working with the author of the current piece I am translating now. I can get her perspective on her story as well as any culture points I may have missed. Having this be a co-project allows me to make more constructive decisions.

I believe that people who become writers think and see the world differently then let’s say a stockbroker. Even when not talking about books and whatnot, I feel extremely supported with the path I have chosen when I am around a gaggle of my writerly comrades. If I’m in a rut, I know a break from the icy seclusion of the library and an evening with a wonderful writerly friend or two will shake my brain back into place. Personally, I think writers can be a bit 50/50 on the whole introverted vs. extroverted thing. I’m around writers all of the time and I do have to say that they can be much more outgoing and sociable than people give them credit for.

This post made me think about myself and reminded me of a quote by Russell Baker:

“The only thing I was fit for was to be a writer, and this notion rested solely on my suspicion that I would never be fit for real work, and that writing didn’t require any.”

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5 comments

  1. the need to “get out in the world” offers writers two major incentives. First, we cannot invent every character along with their personal and physical traits. Even animators cannot create humans or animals that act like humans without observing them
    And as you mention, writers need to be with other writers. Not only do we need the input from fellow scribes, we need to know that event though we write alone, our lifestyle, challenges and dreams are not unique.

    1. I agree. Writers need to get out in the world to become better (except unless you’re a Brontë). Also, travelling is incredibly inspiring.

      >>we need to know that event though we write alone, our lifestyle, challenges and dreams are not unique.<<

      This can definitely help someone from losing their mind, too!

  2. I love to sit in my room with legs crossed as I write. Not in silence, not staring out or at the walls; that happens during editing.

    Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and if not celebrating, enjoy that day. 🙂

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