Is One Really a Lonely Number?

solitaryRecently I Netflixed a National Geographic documentary called Solitary Confinement. Don’t judge. It’s cheaper than scrapbooking and far less carcinogenic than sun bathing. Bonus: it made me think…

Is writing really a solitary career?

There are a lot of myths surrounding the mysterious lifestyle of a writer, numero uno being that it’s a lonely existence. There sits Mr. Scrawny Writer, all jittery on java, banging away at a keyboard in a room devoid of humans, an alien probe his only hope of contact. Ever. Poor, lonely author.

What a fat lot of bunk. Writing involves a whole village of people right from the get go. Let’s take a peek at who lives in the grassy huts surrounding Mr. Writer.

Critique Partners

Think partners in crime. Usually a crit buddy is another writer who can point out your foibles…like using too many big words like foibles.


I like to think of my agent as a cheerleader. She looks great in a mini-skirt and whoa baby, can she belt out a cheer when I need to hear one.


Whether they’re wearing a macro, proofreader, or acquisitions hat, these people are a writer’s best buddies. Fact: a writer cannot see the forest for the trees—or is it trees for the forest—or…wait a minute. Is there an editor in the house?


Steel-toed boots are nice and all, but how many doors of opportunity can an author realistically stick his foot in? These villagers are worth their weight in gold.


Seriously, who believes an author’s 5 star review of their own book? It’s a staggering number: zero times zero. Networking with reviewers is vital to credibility, plus they’ll sometimes take you out for lunch.

Bookstore Owners

Most writers already have a relationship with the nearest bookstore owner because guess what—writers read.


While some authors shun cozying up to a knock-kneed four-eyed librarian because, hey, they’re lending books that could be earning a royalty, I say a librarian is beneficial to embrace. These are the frontline soldiers, able to shoot your book to the forefront of the public spotlight. If you’re a writer, feed, nurture, and love a librarian today.


Call ‘em your tribe. Think of ‘em as your audience. Your peeps. Homeboys, if you will. Yes, an author may be squirreled away for the better part of a year, diligently writing a story, but then for the rest of eternity (or as long as your contract allows, whichever comes first) these are the people who will become your lifelong fans…or enemies, depending. Still, readers let a writer know what they think.

And these are just a few off the top of my head. Writers develop all kinds of crazy relationships with their cover designers, conference speakers, the UPS driver, yada, yada. Now that you’ve been educated, next time you hear someone say writing is a solitary vocation, you can confidently shake your head and say “Unh-unh.”

6 Replies to “Is One Really a Lonely Number?”

  1. Great post, Michelle! It’s great to be reminded once in a while that writing isn’t all alone. Another one I’d like to add – the family that’s cheering you on.

  2. Love that you used partner in crime! When I’m describing my CP relationship to people who have no idea what crit partner means I use partner in crime. Which is even funnier for us because she writes police procedural thrillers and we have so much fun planning out murders.

  3. I agree wholeheartedly — and a good editorial/marketing team is worth their weight in gold.

    Interestingly, I’ve found writing to be much less solitary since having kids. I used to think you needed a room of one’s own to write, but I’ve found that I’m actually able to bang out a blog post even when my two young boys are playing with their Matchbox cars five feet away. (A room of one’s own is still the ideal, don’t get me wrong — but it was cheering to discover that I don’t need total solitude to write).

    1. Bonus: scientific studies show that Matchbox cars are able to increase the synapses in the brain. Okay, so maybe not, but still…you might be on to something.

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