Most people, when they think of writers, think of a single person hunched over a typewriter or computer keyboard, alone with his or her thoughts or muses, take your pick. And aside from the few notable durable writing teams (David Eddings and his wife Leigh, Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman), writing is indeed a solitary task.
But that doesn’t mean that other people can’t help from time to time. Open any book and you’ll likely find a list of acknowledgements, listing people that have helped. From just bouncing ideas off of another person to asking them if they have any ideas on how to get out of a corner you’ve written yourself into, from time to time it really is handy to have someone — or a group of someones — to turn to.
Finding a group of like-minded people also helps to combat the loneliness that writing tends to cause. Most writers prefer to be alone when writing, which means they often live solitary lives. Even family and friends don’t always understand what it’s like to write anything as long as your average short story, much less a novel. They also tend to look at you funny when you talk about your characters as if they were separate individuals, not pieces of your own imagination.
But other authors understand how it is, and can commiserate or give you a swift kick in the pants, whichever they think you need. Authors in your chosen genre(s) can also be some of the best people to bounce ideas off of, because they think along similar lines and are familiar with the genre.
All in all, while the actual writing is usually solitary, if you look closely you’ll see a group of people standing around the person with his name on the cover. Next time you start a new book, don’t just skip over the acknowledgements, read them and consider what a team effort actually putting a book out is.