Let’s put this plainly, writers aren’t necessarily hermits. Being alone doesn’t mean they hike out to the wilderness and shack up in an old wooden cottage to bang away on an old-fashioned typewriter because they’re tired of society. Well, that can be one definition of what it means to be a writer but it’s not the only one. The lonely feeling that comes from being a writer is a little simpler and a little more complex than that.
It’s lonely because no one else is going to be jumping inside your head to write the story. It’s also lonely because no one else will ever really know the experience as you do, since it’s YOUR story. Starting to get the picture?
Writer’s aren’t lonely by choice, at least not all the time. We’re lonely because the journey we take from the start of anything we write to the end is a one-person trip.
You don’t really want to get inside a writer’s head.
This is a bold claim since the inside of anyone’s head can be a mess, but keeping it on subject, a writer’s head will be a mess 24/7. Just like any dedicated, devoted, and semi-crazed to fully insane artist, a writer will be thinking constantly about something, anything, no matter what it is or if it happens to pertain to their story. Everything that comes into a writer’s life will at one point become a part of the experience that they put down on paper. It doesn’t matter how crazy or how mundane it is, one way or another a writer will find room in their head for it, to use as a plot device later or just to keep something in the constant clutter that can block out the insistent noise that comes from the varied recesses of their mind.
It’s a strange place in the mind of a writer even if they won’t admit since it won’t ever stop and it doesn’t know how to do anything but shift gears and occasionally fall in line when the writer needs it to. The mind of a writer is kind of like a Rubix Cube but infinitely more complicated since not a single side will ever line up the way you want it too even if you try and force it. Those writers that can force their thoughts into a straight line are usually those that forego imagination in favor of dominating the story they’re telling, which isn’t horrible, but it does cause part of that wonderful maelstrom that’s a continual part of the process to wither and go dark. Note I didn’t say die. That it won’t ever do.
Be wary of trying to get inside a writer’s head though, as it’s a place that doesn’t trade in sanity or order most times and will swallow up whoever isn’t ready for what’s there. Sometimes the writer doesn’t even want to venture inside their own head and will gladly take the ideas as they come seeping to the forefront. It saves a trip into the madness and preserves what little sanity a lot of them are still holding onto.
It’s hard to understand a writer.
Unless you’ve been there and done what they, we, do, then you won’t understand it nearly as well as they want you to. A good writer can talk your ear off about their process, their motivation, their inspiration, and everything that went into creating their story, but unless you’re an avid reader or a fellow author the chances are that you might not really grasp what they’re trying to tell you. It’d be like a bird telling a fish about the sensation of flight, of being unbound by anything and just going with the wind when it calls. There might be some understanding, but overall you won’t be likely to understand everything.
That’s not a bad thing either, as you don’t need to know the particulars to really enjoy a story. What the writer produces is easy enough to get into since it’s been decoded for you and broken down into story form. If you had to read their thoughts and the jumble that goes through our heads as it was before our translation to the page then you might find yourself getting a bit dizzy from the strain of it.
A writer feels most alone inside their head, but ironically that’s where they’re able to utilize that innate skill we’re born with to reach the most people.
It doesn’t matter if you’re at the top of your game, somewhere in the middle, or at the beginning level. It’s lonely to be a writer since the only one that’s going to experience your journey from the cockpit. Everyone else is just along for the ride.