Deborah Ratliff: The Lonely Writer

Writing is lonely work. At least, that is the opinion of friends of mine who are not writers. They ask, how can you sit at a computer all day and not talk to anyone? Somehow, telling them, I’m never alone, that I talk to my characters would likely not reassure them being alone is good for me.

The fact is that despite the witty or testy or romantic conversation we have with our creations, writing is lonely work.

My career provided a writing outlet. I wrote research papers, training, operations, and policy manuals, newsletters, print and broadcast advertising copy.  While necessary within the scope of my work, and writing advertising was certainly challenging, I never felt fulfilled. When time to write presented itself after a corporate downsizing resulting in a layoff, I took the plunge. I started writing fiction.

As an only child, the solitude of writing was never a concern. What I did discover was that the support provided by co-workers, those who possessed good grammar, or could help with a word or phrase or paragraph was conspicuously absent. While Google is our friend, spewing out all sorts of information about point of view, world building or when to use ‘who or whom,’ bouncing ideas off of Google is not possible, and Siri quit talking to me.

Writers need human contact. We may sit at our keyboards, fighting aliens for control of the universe, playing detective to catch a serial killer or write about a first kiss while lost in our imaginary worlds, but we need each other. We may have a question about the correct verb tense to use, or how to phrase a sentence or redo a paragraph that is driving us to eat ice cream by the pint. We need each other.

The question becomes where do you go to find such support?

I first found a local writing group and was quite pleased with the members and the cordial but targeted feedback. But meeting once a month and an inactive Facebook page didn’t provide the interaction I was hoping for. Having listened to the “experts’ who drilled that a writer needs a social platform, I took the plunge and joined Facebook and searched for writing groups.

Still, I was dissatisfied, the groups I joined either devolved into cliques or arguments. Then I was asked by Karl Taylor to join his new group, “Writers Unite!” and I found a home. A writing group that focused on writing and strove to keep discourse at a minimum. A haven for writers of all levels of expertise to share their work, gain constructive feedback and learn from each other.

This is what a lonely writer needs. We need to know someone, who understands our struggles is willing to listen to our questions and give their advice. Someone who will read our work and provide critique in a respectful way. We may have our characters to chat with, but we need each other to complete our goals.

Thanks to all who have joined us, as “Writers Unite!” on Facebook has grown in from one member, Karl Taylor, to a membership rapidly approaching 15,000 in one year. As we expand our outreach to the web with the launch of the “Writers Unite!” blog, we hope you will join us in our goal to learn and improve our writing.


8 thoughts on “Deborah Ratliff: The Lonely Writer”

  1. This sounds like such a great outlet to improve and see what other people are able to come up with. Positive reinforcement is key to pushing through something that at it’s core is very much a solo project. I’m excited to see Writer’s Unite continue to grow.


  2. Writing can be lonely, yet warming. I used to work in marketing and HR workshops before I became a full-time writer and blogger, but I’m really enjoying this time with myself —I do hope the blog grows as fast as it did on Facebook. I’ll be following your journey.
    Best wishes


  3. You’re right, Deborah. We can get to know our characters, but we still need human contact and interaction. So happy to have found this group, too. Writers really do grok other writers. My wife and I have great non-writing friends, but they just can’t quite understand where we’re coming from when we tell them, “I can’t get my main character, Jim, to cooperate. He keeps saying stupid stuff.”

    Liked by 1 person

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