“Sometimes a kind of glory lights up the mind of man.” John Steinbeck
It’s really quite simple. Ruining the work of any great writer.
It could ruin anything ad copywriters, novelists, screen writers, poets or theologians write.
And the greatest writers — David Ogilvy, Eugene Schwartz, David Mamet, James Joyce, John Gresham, C. S. Lewis, Ludwig Wittgenstein — they are not and were not ever immune to it.
That’s why they avoided it like the clap …
Resisted it and sought its opposite.
The “it” I’m talking about is nothing more than collaboration.
In East of Eden John Steinbeck wrote:
Our species is the only creative species, and it has only one creative instrument, the individual mind and spirit of man. Nothing was ever created by two men. There are no good collaborations, whether in music, in art, in poetry, in mathematics, in philosophy. Once the miracle of creation has taken place, the group can build and extend it, but the group never invents anything. The preciousness lies in the lonely mind of man.
This doesn’t excuse ruthless editing, which lies in the realm of creation and still remains in the sole domain of one man.
But it does resist the idea that a community can build anything of creative genius. That you can have hundreds or thousands users generate a work of interest — a novel, screenplay, Wiki article — let alone of significant and timeless value.
It just doesn’t happen. It wasn’t meant to.
Moses sat in solitude to write the Torah. Joyce hunched in his hovel to bang out Finnegan’s Wake. Ogilvy brooded over his ads, scotch and ice at his side.
And that’s it.
The opposite of collaboration that the world’s greatest writers pursue: solitude.
Fixed times of the day that are reserved for the writer and his creative act. Where he writes himself silly.
Great writing demands solitude. Poor writing compromises it.
And once you have the piece you believe in you must have the brassbound conviction to defend it against the community and their tendencies toward collaboration.
Collaboration is your enemy. Solitude your friend.
Unless, of course, you are content with mediocre content. And if you are, we need to talk. I can teach you how to break that god-awful belief.