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Praecedo – June 2011

June 1, 2011

We live in a golden age of communication. Never before in history have so many people, from so many different places, been able to connect so rapidly with each other.

This site would be nothing without the connections that have been forged due to it. The writers come from across the globe: most have collaborated with each other on at least one writing project.

It is an exciting time to be a writer. And yet…

This month’s theme is “Connection and Collaboration”. Whilst new technology has created a brave new world of multi-author cooperation and a global writing family, sometimes I worry that a level of connection actually threatens disconnection from the process of writing itself.

On Twitter, hashtags such as #litchat and #amwriting can be invaluable resources, but it is easy to get so involved in discussion of writing, that you find you aren’t actually writing! Networking with authors around the world is great, but nobody started writing to be a great networker.

It is a concern that I’ve carried throughout my time with Write Anything–do I spend more time talking about being a writer than I do actually being a writer? At the moment, the answer to that is yes.

I have been feeling disconnected from the craft of writing lately. Studying for a qualification, issues at work, getting the new site prepared: all important tasks, but nonetheless distracting me from writing.

So let me disconnect now for the month, and let my fellow collaborators demonstrate their connections to the craft, and each other. And at the end of it, perhaps I’ll have reconnected. I certainly hope you all find new thoughts on what it means to connect as a writer, and new ideas for collaboration.

  1. June 1, 2011 5:32 am

    Paul, this is a very good point. Still, I wouldn’t necessarily point a finger at Twitter or other social media as an entirely new means of not writing. Getting together with other writers to talk about writing (instead of, y’know, WRITING) is as old as the salons of Paris or the Algonquin round table. Now, though, you don’t have to live in London, Paris or New York to gain the benefit of your peers’ experience, or to engage in this particularly chatty form of not writing.

    The distributed community of writers is a two-edged sword, to be sure.

  2. June 1, 2011 6:00 am

    Funnily enough Tony I was thinking about the great literary salons as I was writing this. I suppose the difference is that you had to actually be there in order to let them distract you. If you were disconnected from the great cultural centres then your distractions were limited. Now the great cultural centres are a smartphone away.

    But it is true that as a profession, any excuse will do!

  3. June 1, 2011 6:50 am

    And I think its all seasons. We spend our initial time hiding from the fact that we might like writing – or admitting it freely… then we proudly announce it, then we get caught up with all the excitement of celebrating others achievements and networking; pushing our boundaries and working at refining our craft, then we get sucked down the editing hole – either for other people or ones own redraft – hiding away again from the world; I personally hope the sun starts to shine again and I am able to crawl out into the light and begin connecting again with myself as a writer.
    We need to ride those waves and accept them as part of the course..

  4. June 1, 2011 9:15 am

    Online published writing over-saturates the art form, and therefore each individual piece is glazed over. It’s natural competition and less attention to detail that really hurts us.

  5. June 2, 2011 2:54 pm

    My husband and I were just having this conversation. I was chatting about my day and what I was doing online, and he asked how much writing I was getting done. Because he hadn’t heard me talking about it for a while. I *was* writing in this case, but there have been times when social media, marketing and promotion have kept me from writing.

    I think part of it it because writing is so solitary. To have a place where you can go and connect with so many people who love what you love is wonderful. And doing something online can make you feel like you accomplished something when a day of writing can leave you frustrated if it isn’t going well.

    Like many writers, I’ve had to schedule my online time so I don’t let it take over. Connections are great, but when it keeps me from doing what I want to do — write — it’s not doing me any favors. It can be a hard balance to find.

  6. June 2, 2011 8:29 pm

    I am a big believer in collaborating with the self. I make a date at least once a month with my muse, and we find an off-the-trail coffee shop in some little town. It is here that I pull the battery from my phone, leave the laptop in the car, and walk in with just a daybook, a pen, the key to my Bug, and no more than $2 for a mug of coffee.
    It is here, in this solace, that I can collaborate most deeply with my muse. I tell my student writers that it’s like Jet-Skiing across the bay and then turning the engines off. You allow yourself to slip softly into the water, and as you sink–as you go deeper into the stillness of the brackish waters, you leave behind the hustle and the bustle of that Tweet-crazy way of living.
    It’s just you and the muse, then, and OH! the conversations that ensue!

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