Most creative ideas are developed by individuals. There are occasional collaborative efforts, but most of the time people end up disagreeing and going their own way. By and large, if you are creative, you spend quite a bit of time alone.
Most of my pastimes are individual in nature. I like to write, read, paint/draw, knit/crochet, bake, play the piano, make things out of stained glass, and do genealogical research. On the Myer’s Briggs test, (www.myersbriggs.org) I score E/INFJ, which means I am right on the border of being an introvert/extrovert. In short, my extroverted side tends to suffer from my interest in solitary pursuits.
It seems to me that many writers are in the same boat. This problem is traditionally solved by drinking, but with the advent of the internet, things have changed somewhat. I have been a member of the Agent Query Connect writing forum since last August. My online friends are cheerful, knowledgeable, helpful and creative, with a good sense of humor. They like to have fun, sometimes disagree, and occasionally gripe, but by and large, the thing they have in common is that they are a lot like me: Word people who spend a lot of time alone.
Although I have heard some horror stories about internet trolls and the like, my experience of a writing forum has been very positive, for several reasons. First of all, the other people on the forum are writers. When I ask for opinions about my work, they tell me, unlike friends who might read and say inanely, “It was really good.” (Whether it was, or not.) Secondly, there is a ton of positive support. If I get an offer for a partial/full OR have been laid low by rejection, there will be sincere condolences and/or good wishes from that empathetic bunch. Thirdly, I get a decent laugh at least once a day.
The word “forum” is defined (in part) by the New Oxford American Dictionary as:
noun ( pl. forums )
1 a place, meeting, or medium where ideas and views on a particular issue can be exchanged : it will be a forum for consumers to exchange their views on medical research.
2 a court or tribunal.
3 ( pl. fora |ˈfôrə|) (in an ancient Roman city) a public square or marketplace used for judicial and other business.
That does not seem like an adequate description of what goes on in a writing forum. I think that I would use the word “cohort.” (Which doesn’t sound too warm and fuzzy either, but what does it mean?) The same dictionary defines it as:
1 [treated as sing. or pl. ] an ancient Roman military unit, comprising six centuries, equal to one tenth of a legion.
2 [treated as sing. or pl. ] a group of people banded together or treated as a group : a cohort of civil servants patiently drafting legislation.
• a group of people with a common statistical characteristic : the 1940–44 birth cohort of women.
3 a supporter or companion.
• an accomplice or conspirator : his three cohorts each had pled guilty.
ORIGIN late Middle English : from Old French cohorte, or from Latin cohors, cohort- ‘yard, retinue.’ Compare with court .
The word derives from the Latin : cohors, an ancient Roman military unit, and also ‘band of people with a common interest.’
I think that number three describes it the best. Companions with a common characteristic, all in the same straights, supporting, empathizing and encouraging. If you are a writer, join a writing cohort (either online, or locate one in your community). You will be surprised at how much more connected you feel.