The Solitary Writer by Eden Mabee

With apologies to Kristen Lamb, I have some bad news for you.  You are alone.

Like all of us here in ROW80, you chose to become a writer.  Now you must live up to that decision.  You have to accept that no one else can go on this journey in your place.  No one else can take your risks for you.  You have to put yourself out there.  You have to put your words and your thoughts out for the world to see.

You have to write.

I’m sorry to be so blunt about it, but now that you’ve chosen to be a writer, you have to settle down and you have to write.  Some call this “Bottom in Chair, Fingers on Keyboard”, and you should wake up every morning with this as your mantra.  You want to write (you must, you’ve chosen to join a writing challenge), so it makes sense that you should write.

But what about my fellow ROWers, you ask?  Well, if you want to know a dirty little secret, they’re in the same boat as you.  As wonderful and supportive as your fellow ROWers will be, they can’t do this for you.  We cannot do this for you.  We cannot write your words.  We can write our own, but not yours.  You have to do that.

We’ll cheer you on.  We’ll offer our shoulders when things get difficult.  But we can’t give life to your words.  We can do a lot of things for you: share ideas for stories, do beta readings, recommend agents and publisher and pass along the latest market news.  We can even perhaps meet you when you come to town and laugh over cakes and coffees. We can do so much for you.

But we can’t put those words into a permanent form.  We can’t given a concrete image to your thoughts.

We cannot write for you.

But the good news is, you can!  You can write those ideas, the way you puzzled over the waiter’s expression when you ordered the red snapper, the way the sky turned a brilliant crimson and slate-gray this evening so intense you knew a storm was coming in your main character’s world.  You can do it, one word at a time.

And you know what else?

You are not alone.  We’re here.  We’re doing it with you.  Each of us, putting down our words one at a time, one after another after another after…

We’re all solitary writers… in this together.  And we are not alone.


Eden Mabee

17 thoughts on “The Solitary Writer by Eden Mabee

  1. One key reason to join a challenge like ROW80 is based on the idea that if we are not accountable to others then it is easy to procrastinate and accomplish nothing beyond having a dream and empty words. By joining ROW we become accountable to others that have chosen the same adventure – writing – which will hopefully land our fingers on the keyboard on those days when we just don’t feel like it.

    Well said post, Eden. We are only alone when we choose to be.

  2. Yes. This. 100+ After I spent hours yesterday supporting my fellow ROWers, but I also got an amazing amount of writing done!

    Along with what Gene said above (waves to Gene!), I find that my blossoming friendships with other writers helps keep my butt in chair, as well as helps me figure out how to do this. I’ve been writing just over one year now, and am well on my way to self-publishing on Kindle – hopefully before year’s end.

    And blogfests like Row80 not only help me with my procrastination, but they keep me focused.

    Yes, we are alone. Yes, we are not alone. I ❤ paradox!

  3. Indeed, Eden! I sit at my keyboard alone, writing my stories, but I do find the encouragement, support, and accountability from fellow writers to be great external motivators. I’d write no matter what, but I like the connections of ROW80, MyWANA, and other writers’ groups. They help me to focus and accomplish my goals.

  4. I’ve been writing and publishing for about four years now, and I STILL need the encouragement of fellow ROWers. You’re right…it’s kind of a combination of alone and not alone. 🙂 ROW80 is the best challenge I know!

  5. This is a great, ‘kick me in the booty and tap those words out.’ I’ve got to do it. Thanks for the ever needed encouragement, the truly welcomed knock on the nobbin. Great post!

  6. Cool post. Yes, there’s a huge and supportive community of writers out there. But every rejection or acceptance reminds us that our writing will rise or fall on its own. And so we plunge into the depths, or rise to those jubilant heights, but in the end, we write what we write–and like you say, we’re the only one who can write it JUST that way.

  7. Thank you all for your kind words and you support of not only me, but of each other. (I had a bit of non-access issue yesterday. So sorry I didn’t reply sooner.)

    Really, the ROW80 has been so very good with helping make sure that BICHOK (or BICHOKTAM as Ryan King likes to call it) that I’m wondering now if we shouldn’t make a ROE80 (Round of Editing in 80 Days) to work on all those words we ‘ve been writing.

    And because our own Kim Switzer posted about it on the Facebook group… Is anyone else interested in doing the Story a Day challenge this month?

    Have a lovely week writing, fellow paradox lovers. And thanks again for commenting, all of you! HUGS!

    1. Not to contradict you (but why stop now?!), but you aren’t alone. Maybe you didn’t notice me, quietly attached to your left elbow.

      This was brilliant, Sys! Snugs!

      1. 😀

        Thanks, Sys! I really, really needed that after these past two days. Though, if we were really attached at the elbow… Hmm, I’m thinking cool story ideas again. Needed that too. Thank you! ❤ you!

  8. I love the imagery at the end, Eden, which shows your ability so well. You’ve expressed the paradox perfectly–all the support in the world will not shore up non-existent words. I’ve had access issues of my own–so sorry to be so very late in responding to your lovely post.

  9. Thanks again! And “Thank You” to all our fellow ROWers, as well as Kait and my fellow sponsors… All of you, ladies and gentlemen, make this “solitary profession” one of the most welcoming and delightful in the world.

    And if that isn’t paradox… it’s at least Life.

  10. I’m so far behind reading posts, but trying to catch up. Glad I started with this.

    I felt so alone before ROW80. Yes, I still have to write, but knowing others struggle with making time, finding the spark, and putting butt in chair really helps.

    Thanks for another great ROW80 kick in the pants. 😉

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