Friday, July 15, 2011


by Kathi Diamant

Writing can be a lonely business, a solitary endeavor, requiring isolation and intense focus. It demands time and a quiet environment, with long periods of uninterrupted concentration. I find that if I so much as go out to lunch, my whole writing day is shot. To write well, I have to be alone.

My favorite writer, Franz Kafka once described his ideal writing situation as “an innermost room of a spacious locked cellar.” His food would be brought and left, far away from his room, outside the cellar’s outermost door. “The walk to my food, in my dressing gown, through the vaulted cellars would be my only exercise. I would then return to my desk, eat slowly and with deliberation, then start writing again at once. And how I would write! From what depths I would drag it up! Without effort! For extreme concentration knows no effort.”

Kafka also said that “the existence of the writer is truly dependent on his desk. If he wants to escape madness, he really should never leave his desk. He must cling to it with his teeth.” But even Kafka feared that the solitude he forced on himself in order to write was depressing him, driving him mad, while writing was his only weapon to fight it.

So what’s a writer to do? Join a writing group, or start your own writing community. You will discover you are not alone, others have walked this path before you, and have experienced loneliness and isolation, and found solutions. In a writing group, you will find encouragement, support and inspiration. A writing group can make all the difference between success and failure, between giving up in despair and holding the first copy of your new book in your hands.

I’m a firm believer. I have been a member of Writing Women since 1988, and credit WW for my book, Kafka’s Last Love, which would not have been possible without their sage advice and unqualified encouragement. San Diego Writing Women, who produces this blog, is an offshoot of that group. And I just joined She Writes (also open to men), the largest community of women writers online.

There are many ways to get started with a group. In San Diego, author and writing teacher Judy Reeves runs ongoing writing groups, and there are Meet Ups for writers all over the country. If you want more information on how to start your own group, drop me a line—I’ll be happy to share guidelines and SOP (Standard Operating Procedures) for writing groups large and small.

As Kafka also said, “You won’t do anything without others.”

1 comments: said...

I always thought of myself as a solitary writer as well, needing quiet space and no distractions. But after attending a few writing workshops with Judy and at Writers Ink, there is something synergistic about a group of writers working alone, together.

Post a Comment