Why are so many writers introverts? Because – given a choice – we’d rather not interact with human beings more than absolutely necessary. Our realm is populated with words, characters, plotlines, and imagery. And small talk? Not our forte. (Weather is what we wield when we need to aggravate a chapter) But no man is an island. Despite the popular cartoon of writers holed up in a cave with a laptop and a candle (okay, fine – that’s a weird mash-up), we need people in our lives. Without them, we suffer. And starve. That’s why every GOOD writer has a BETTER support network keeping them functioning.
Filling the Gaps
As a group, writers aren’t healthy. We shirk meals, avoid sleep, and cripple our brains with hours (weeks) of self-doubt. And, no, that handful of potato chips you shoved in your mouth as you re-read that last chapter does NOT count as lunch. Any more than gallons of coffee substitute as breakfast (or water).
There IS such a thing as spending too much time glued to the computer.
And no writer in the history of the world has managed to exercise responsibility for themselves. It’s why so many died of horrible diseases at young ages.
Now, you can set alarms and delegate responsibility to a machine to interrupt your writing flow with pop-ups to stretch, nap, or raid the fridge. But no phone or app has the ability to scoot your chair back from the desk and march you down the hall. (Not yet, at any rate) And let’s be honest: How many times have you tapped that “Snooze” button because you were in the middle of a writing frenzy and didn’t want to lose your train of thought?
This is where your support network comes in. Human beings don’t have snooze settings. And they don’t listen to excuses – at any volume. A person will DRAG you away from your work – for your own good. (Or at least bring you a meal and stand over you until you eat it)
The people you let into your life fill in the gaps you leave when you decide YOU know better than common sense.
And they help you live a little longer than Edgar Allan Poe or T.S. Eliot.
The Function of a Support Network
“I’m an intelligent person.”
Yeah, I know. So am I. A brilliant individual who’s missed every meal in a day, locked up the muscles of my body, and only snatched two hours of sleep because I was freaking out about a writing project. Want to take bets on how much damage those habits do to the body?
My husband is around to prevent my body from breaking down faster than it already is. And while I’m not always grateful for the “interference,” I try to say so the only way I know how: in words.
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I also have others who pitch in, though. Because – like most writers – I sabotage myself with imposter syndrome and self-doubt. So my support network steps in to reassure me that I’m NOT completely worthless. Whether they work in the industry or not, friends set up cheerleading sessions to distract my brain and get it back on the proper track.
Sometimes it’s nothing more than a casual remark of, “How are things going?”
Getting that opportunity to talk through the situations in your mind (imaginary as they usually ARE) is all you need to untangle the rhetoric you’re swamping yourself with. Or maybe they’ll distract you with a topic of their own and give you a chance to BREATHE. Either way, you’re not spiraling through a nightmare of “I’m not worthy.”
It’s all HEALTHY.
And way more than you’re capable of doing on your own. (Somehow, the mirror never cooperates with the discussion the way you’d like)
The best part of a support network is YOU decide who goes into the lineup.
Maybe that means your significant other. Or it could mean NOT. The keyword there is SUPPORT. You want to “surround” yourself with people who believe in you and want to see you succeed. Any naysayers need a polite (and FIRM) escort to the door.
You’re building a group that gets excited about your accomplishments and raves about them to other people. Not because you asked them to, but because they’re genuinely excited for you. They can’t wait to share the news and hype things up.
And that positive energy feeds how you feel about YOU. It’s a little extra bonus.
Probably as vital as the regular meals, stretch breaks, and mandatory sleep every night.
My Support Network is Irreplaceable
I don’t know where I’d be without my circle.
They keep me from falling apart (literally, in my husband’s case). They ensure I don’t throw in the towel whenever a rejection lands in my inbox. And they reassure me when those doubts come creeping up my spine.
It’s a network of friends:
And some of my family.
And there aren’t enough words (don’t worry, I see the irony) to thank them. They’re the reason I’m as close to sane as I am.
So take a look around. Who do you have in your group? Do you need to trim away anyone who ISN’T offering the help you need? Or is it time to crack open the shutters a bit and FIND those crucial friends?