It’s no secret that writing can be a lonely career. For those of us with day jobs, it takes away from our social lives on nights and weekends. For those who write full-time, many a day (and/or night!) is spent tapping away at the computer. Many may insist that loneliness comes part-and-parcel with writing and that it’s simply something we have to get used to for the love of the profession, but I disagree: even as a writer, there are ways to tackle loneliness.
Why might you want to do this? Sure, some of the greatest writers in history were loners who benefited from the copious amounts of alone time spent with their work. Many were, and are, notorious for getting up at the wee hours of the morning, writing through lunch, and returning to their solitary writing desk after the kids are cared for, only to join their partner in bed well after he or she has fallen asleep. Still others go to the extreme of stealing away to the woods to write in peace (we’re looking at you, J.D. Salinger). But if these tactics don’t work for you—and my guess is that for many people, they don’t—that’s okay.
Humans are pack animals. If you need human interaction, it doesn’t make you a bad writer. In fact, it can make you a better one! One of the best ways to create living, breathing characters is by interacting with and observing real people, so shutting yourself out from the world can actually do more harm than good to your craft. On top of that, loneliness can contribute to a number of awful mental disorders that are common amongst writers and creative types, such as depression and anxiety; for some, this can even lead to alcoholism and drug abuse. And while greats such as Hemingway may have glamorized this life, it’s not one you want. It’s not one that will make you a better writer.
So once you’re decided that you’d rather not shut the world out to work, what can you do? Here are 3 ways to combat loneliness as a writer and keep your spirits high while you tackle that work in progress:
- Write in public. It can be hard to tune out the world and hone in on your work with the clatter of café cups and the wailing of an ambulance in the distance (can you tell I live in New York City?), but if you can perfect that art, writing in public can greatly keep you from feeling too secluded when working. If you need something quieter, try a library or a park. Find a spot that works well for you and stick with it for a while—not only will you be surrounded by people, you’ll likely forge your own writing space that will allow you to work even more efficiently!
- Join a writing group. Whether you’re in the early stage of exploring your voice or writing your third bestseller, it’s always helpful to have a small group of beta readers to work with. Find two or three people who are around the same stage as you in their writing career and meet regularly to discuss each other’s work. This will give you the opportunity to both work on your craft and satisfy your social needs all at once, leaving neither to be sacrificed for the other.
- Get active on Twitter. When nothing other than a dark writing cave will do, consider introducing Twitter to your writing day. This shouldn’t become a distraction, of course, but using the social media platform to meet and network with other writers and industry professionals can have a number of benefits beyond socializing. To take it a step further, join us or any other participating writers for some word sprints, or host your own! The reason we’re such word sprinting fanatics to begin with is that they’re so productive and fun.
Does writing make you lonely? How do you combat loneliness when writing? Let us know!