So, I’m nearly at the end of the first draft of my first book so I thought I would share my thoughts on the task of writing and how lonely it can be.
I picked up the writing of ‘The Veil’ again some 3 months ago and have done a bit every day since and I have been amazed at how lonely it can feel writing 2000 or so words a day. I found I got lost in my head, lost track of time and wondered what on earth was happening in my ‘real’ life, rather than the lives I’ve been writing about. I have found the process lonely and isolating.
The People and World in Your Writing are Not Real
It really is wonderful that, as writers we can create new worlds, old worlds or adapt the world we live in to suit our stories. Unless you are writing specifically about real people, the characters in our stories are not real. My mind has a tendancy to imagine my characters are real and I have become attached to them. That is all well and good. If I have an affinity with them, I think I can portray them better. But they are not my friends though, are they? When the book is finished, I will leave them behind to be shared amongst my readers. I may never go back to them. And that feeling on its own makes me feel lonely; these people I have loved and hated will be gone soon and I will have to create some new characters. Its a bit like moving house every few months I suspect. You make new friends, then have to leave them.
A writer’s mind is never properly settled, is it?
Combating the Loneliness
To combat this and to avoid cabin fever, I tried taking my trusty laptop out to local coffee shops and writing there. It was really good to get out and write. The different environments and people added something to the creative streak in me. My inspiration was all around me. I could take gestures from my fellow caffeine addicts and add them to the story, the noises and the smells too. Even the way the place looked and felt. It was invigorating.
One day, a friend of mine popped into the Caffe Nero unexpectedly and joined me. It was so refreshing to have some company, and a welcome break from the book, because even sitting there by myself and writing away amongst all these other people was a fairly lonesome experience. We chatted for a bit, he went and I got back on with the task at hand. I felt I had had a break and new ideas started to form in my head from that conversation.
Also, I’ve taken the laptop early to work with me and sat on the sofa tapping away (I work in a very casual environment as an indoor climbing instructor) and found that less lonely than sitting at home in the peace and quiet. Oddly enough, one of my most productive afternoons was at the climbing wall. Despite being interrupted by friends and customers, I managed over a thousand words in under two hours!
I know I’ve harped on about social media in other posts, but if you want a quick burst of other people in the world, then flick onto Facebook or Twitter and see what other people doing. Comment on a couple of posts or retweet something interesting. You may not get an instant response, but at least you have interacted with a few people and reminded yourself of the world outside your imagination.
A word of warning! Be disciplined with social media. I’m a bit of a nightmare with it so I have keep telling myself off about it. Once I flick onto it, I’m stuck there for a good hour or more, so if you have an addictive personality, perhaps it might be best to leave social media until a dedicated time of the day!
This is quite possibly teaching some writers to suck eggs, but I found that actually leaving the book alone and getting out and doing something to be really therapeutic. There have been times when I have had to go out to remind myself that there are other people in the world other than my family, and I can interact with them (imagine that!). People should be a constant source of inspiration for all writers, and without getting out and meeting them, you can forget they are there.
Sitting at your desk at home or wherever you happen to write is great, but when the loneliness sets in and you feel so far away from the real world, I would recommend trying to get out and be around other people whilst you get on with your writing. It may not be the most peaceful place you could be, but the sights, sounds and smells of somewhere less familiar than home can reinvigorate your creative taste buds.
How do You Combat Lonliness? Do you Even Feel Lonely When Writing?
I’d love it if you were to leave a comment about how you deal with how you combat your loneliness, if of course you feel lonely when writing. Share you tips in the comments box below.