No man is an island.
We’ve all heard that phrase before. But sometimes we isolate ourselves. Writers are often hermits, locking themselves away into a cave someplace where they can pound out those words, uninterrupted. I’d guess that most of us are guilty of shutting others out of our lives at one time or another.
Without a doubt, there’s something to be said for alone time. And many arts by their nature require solitude. I need “me” time to focus on my work without being disturbed – a lot of it. But, it is also important not to ignore your social needs.
Writers and other artists need each other. If you’re a Creative, you need a group of like-minded individuals. Think of it as a support group, but not in a sissy, whining, needy sort of way (unless that’s how you roll, and if so, then by all means whine all you like).
I’m in a group called the Consortium. It’s a non-profit organization that aims to financially support artists of all types. One of the ways it generates funds is through publishing. That may sound like a big, important, professional deal, but for me, being a part of the Consortium is much more personal. For me it’s a group of creative friends.
The artists within the Consortium have varying personal beliefs and ideologies, but one common thread unites us: a love of art, be it writing, painting, photography or video games. Each of us seeks to improve our craft by devoting time daily. Ideally, this takes place in a full-time scenario where the art is the focus instead of letting it slide to the backseat and become “just a hobby.” A few members have already achieved that goal.
Introverts and Extraverts
I’ve mentioned before that I’m extravert. That means I feed off of the energy of other people. I need to be around other Creatives, and often. It fuels my creative fire. It gives me the inspiration and motivation I need to succeed. If you’re an extravert, you already know this about yourself. We just kind of end up hanging around people, whether it’s scheduled or not.
But if you’re an introvert (as a large number of Creatives are), you might not immediately see the need for a creative support group. Since you get your energy from your time alone, you might find yourself most enthusiastic about writing (or whatever your art is) when you’ve been sequestered in another dimension by yourself. (Help me out here, introverts, I don’t really have the full understanding of all your inner workings.) But even if that’s the case, you can’t say that you don’t need others. (Okay, you can say it, but you’ll be wrong.)
An Island or a Peninsula?
You might think you’re working just fine on your own right now. But until you surround yourself with a group of like-minded people, you’ll never know how your productivity might be influenced. Try joining a group. You might spark a brilliant new idea from a discussion. You might be encouraged about a project that has been getting you down. You might be inspired to team up and start a collaborative project with one of your buddies. You might even find that someone you know has a key contact that could work in your favor later on. Who knows what great things might be in store?
I’ve been highly encouraged and blessed by my own group of friends. Having a support group has benefited me in ways I never would have dreamed.
Keep your sacred alone time. But try going inland once and a while, too. In other words, don’t be an island. Be a peninsula.
Food for discussion: How does being a part of a group or not being a part of a group affect your creativity?
If you’re in the Oklahoma City area, be sure to attend the Consortium’s upcoming art contest and silent auction on May 21st. To find out more, click here.