Community is very important in any career, and writing is no different. Being an artist can be a very lonely thing, and even if one isn’t lonely, one is definitely alone. And being alone too much is bad for your mental health, no matter where you fall on the introvert-extrovert continuum.
I have a wonderful support group here, most specifically with my writer’s group The White Paper Project. It’s made up of five members, currently, and we critique each other’s work on a weekly basis. We print out stuff out on cheap white paper, because we’re cheap. We also only use black ink. And I go hardcore—editing with a red pen.
I also moderate a writer’s group at my local library, open to the public. Even though it is only once a month, it has been a great way for me to get in touch with people of like mind from all walks of life. I’m not as hardcore here, I edit with a blue pen when I do edit (which isn’t much anymore, because now we’re a prompt writing group).
I’ll be teaching a writing intensive on a cruise ship in sometime this year (if all goes according to plan). Right now, it’s looking like June. These kinds of retreats are wonderful and intimate, where each of the participants get to know each other in a very psychologically special way. I’m super-excited about this event, because I get the same intimate benefits as everyone else.
And, of course, there is meeting my readers. I love that. I’m always shocked that someone has read my work, even after all these years. I love to hear what my readers think, both good and bad. I want to know if I held up my side of the writer/reader bargain, how I can improve, and what to keep on doing.
All of these things help to keep the loneliness at bay that can come with having a career that causes one to work mainly alone. Especially when this one falls closer to the extrovert end of the spectrum.