You may have heard it said before that writing is a solitary profession. It can be. But it doesn't have to be. It shouldn't be.
Writers need to be in contact with their "tribe" of fellow writers otherwise they are going to get swallowed up by the feeling of "I'm the only one". Whether via conferences, emails, clinics, writer Facebook groups, etc., we need one another to navigate the writing world, to learn from, and to spur on. Writing is a constant learning process. Things change over the course of time and what is desired in the industry now may not be in the future. Growth is not achieved by keeping to oneself but rather through an exchange of knowledge.
Critiques can feel like criticism and one person's opinion that goes against all others can be the one to stick with us forever. This is where our supporters step in. They remind us to stay true to who we are, that not everyone is going to love our writing (and that's okay), and to never give up. We get so wrapped up in our minds, so invested in our characters, and so anxious about what readers will think, that we can cripple our creativity. It is vital that we have someone to spur us on, someone we feel no pressure to from, and someone who simply believes in us.
As Earnest Hemingway put it, "We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master." There are writers who may produce better than others, who may have a few more books published that we do, who may have won several awards or even taught a handful of classes, but when it really comes down to it, we are all still writers. Some of us are just starting the journey and some of us have been plodding down this road for a long time. Each of us has a pace that works best and we must remember not to compare our "success" against another. After all, "success" in one writer's life looks completely different than another's. I believe success can not be measured against another's, can not be measured in numbers, in product sales. I'll readily admit I do not like the word. When you are thinking of where you stand, think about these questions: Did you put your heart into your creation, whatever it may be? Do you like it? Does it serve a purpose, however big or small? Are you proud to call it yours? Shouldn't that be enough?
My dear writer, keep writing. Be alone while you bring your stories to life if that is how you work best. But don't remain there. Get out and smell the roses. Attend a writing course or two. Brainstorm with friends. And if that isn't you, then be open to helping the writer that is. Include them into your "tribe", spur them on, trudge down in the trenches with them. Now if you are reading this and you aren't a writer, but you know one, then be willing to listen to their excited rambling, show interest in their characters, spur them on when the blank page is staring back at them. If you don't know a writer, than use this is life. Be a supporter. This world we live in can use a great deal more of those.