Is Isolation Good For an Artist?

The wanderer standing alone

I don’t have a problem with people or with the world, but it has always been difficult for me to find a place for myself ‘out there.’ As some of you might know, I am shy and short and frail, a most tragic combination.

No person living in a community can be self-sufficient. You need others to produce the food and the clothes and the items you use. There’s always someone else you depend on, so you can never walk away from society, unless you move in a forest and live like a hermit, feeding on roots and drinking rainwater.

When I speak of a recluse, I mean someone who shuns the company of others to be alone with himself, especially for long periods. You must love (or hate) yourself a lot to be a recluse.

“I care for myself. The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself.”
― Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

I am an irreligious recluse by choice. I’ve been withdrawn all my life. There has been a time when I thought that something was wrong with me, and I tried to be an extrovert, and the result was black-red hair, colorful clothes, and pink boots. It did not work out.

In time I came to understand that there are many shy and withdrawn people in the world who have achieved great things, and won the favors of Lady Immortality. The world calls them artists. In their case, shyness, self-doubt, delicacy of constitution and of temper, are not faults, but artistic virtues, which make their hearts more sensible and their minds more observant.

Advantages of being a recluse

  • Quiet and relaxed life.
    Total control over your daily schedule.
    More free time.
    Increased output because you have fewer distractions.
    No accidents, no illnesses.
    Reduced expenses. Since you don’t go out, you don’t spend money on clothes, perfumes, cars, restaurants, and so on. For my part, I even cut my hair.

Disadvantages of being a recluse

  • The silence, so peaceful and relaxing at first, can become at times louder than the loudest noise.
  • No sweethearts. I sleep in a single bed people.
  • If you are not careful, in time you become critical of the world outside your attic, sometimes unjustly so.
  • You can develop strange habits.
  • You are more likely to suffer from mental illnesses, or simply to go mad.
  • You can’t win the lottery because you’re not playing. No unexpected love affairs/fortunes/friends/events.

“Being alone never felt right. sometimes it felt good, but it never felt right.”
― Charles Bukowski, Women

In conclusion, I think that when you are an artist and want to devote yourself to your art, becoming a recluse for a year or two can be an interesting experience that can make you a better person, though possibly at the cost of losing some friends. But it’s questionable whether being a recluse all your life is good for your artistic career. I have my doubts, which is why I will start going out more after finishing Oliver Colors’ biography. I can never be a social butterfly, but I will not stay an attic moth forever.

At present the boy with a hat doesn’t have time for editing. He entreats his readers to be kind and forgive and forget any literary mistakes they might discover in his posts.
(This post was based on an older entry.)

Gazing at the water

61 thoughts on “Is Isolation Good For an Artist?

  1. I hope the writing is going well!

    your story sounds very familiar to me, however I am less reclusive now more out of necessity as I eventually suffered from Agoraphobia and hence becoming more social and extroverted actually helped me overcome my problems.

    I look forward to reading Oliver Colors when it’s finished!

  2. i love your writing! also i have been meaning to tell you that your name, Vincent Mars is an excellent name for an author, it has the sound of a serious and thoughtful writer.

  3. Oohh!I like Muse too =) and i have that coversing difficulty also. As for introvert, I ‘m not sure, because I speak my mind in every way possible. I’m somewhere in that pink boots phase. Except rather than wear boots, i cut shirts,and wear stripes with polka dots

  4. Thank you for sharing, though I do think that your post is missing something. What about the disadvantages of being a recluse?

  5. You could have been describing me. My husband always tells me that I am not normal because I would rather be alone with a good book than with people.

  6. I love that image you ended with…and I think, whatever makes you happy, you know? Life’s too short to always worry about what others expect. Me – I’m a bit of a people recluse, I suppose. But I love the outdoors 🙂

  7. I too love time alone. Perhaps that is why I often wish I had been born 150 years ago, when the American West was wild and unsettled. In my imagination it was a time when men could freely choose to leave society behind… and often did.

  8. You are right. It is hard to create and be out in the world, but when one’s searching for one’s material – the reasons to write, and for whom – there is surely a need to engage with what is going on out there, at least at some level. Writers can go a long way reading other writers’ works, and find much to spark their imagination, but there still need to be other sources of energy and insight. The advice to would-be writers one hears most commonly is not to give up the day job, and this is true for often well-published writers – not only because it ensures some income which writing rarely guarantees, but also because it’s a source for ideas and material and differing perspectives. Perhaps a new cause is called for. This will create some new dynamic, beyond simply socialising. Good luck with finishing the book.

  9. I am rarely alone, therefore I sometime wonder what it would be like to rent a cottage for a month, where I can do nothing but write! It’s a popular daydream of mine …

    I love the way you write. I always enjoy your posts, just as I enjoyed your book 50 Words.

    Thank you! 🙂

  10. You know, I often fight with myself over the same things. I even lived off the grid for 2 years in an effort to find my own beauty in silence. I still don’t know which is best for me…It’s a journey like everything else for sure.

  11. “You can’t win the lottery because you’re not playing. No unexpected love affairs/fortunes/friends/events.”
    This is what I see as ‘Disadvantages of being a recluse’

    “I can never be a social butterfly, but I will not stay an attic moth forever.”
    That’s right! Sometimes is good to go outside to see something different of what you have around you.

  12. I prefer to be a solitary rather than a recluse – not withdrawn but carefully filtering the world to pleasant shades of anything but color – a low-contrast, manageable dance with danger, free from immediate influence always, delighted to conservatively sip whatever hues of joy I can tolerate, always thirsty for more. The paintings in this post are amazing, above all the last image.

  13. I wonder the same. It drives me mad. Sometimes things get done, sometimes I just have to put out the cigarette, let go of the coffee and shut the damn computer. Great post.

  14. there mere fact that you’re writing shows that you can’t be anti social, it’s simply impossible. Whether it’s writing to people, or writing to your document, writing always screams to be heard…

  15. Time alone is essential. But if you are going to write about life, then you probably need to go out and experience it.

  16. I think most writers are not recluses. We spend countless hours in distant worlds, engaged in intimate conversation, love triangles, conquer kingdoms, travel to strange lands, save people from disasters, catch murders, and fly. We are the most well rounded people alive.

  17. Your insights on the good and the bad of the reclusive life are so spot on. I can relate completely. And, quite frankly, I think our lives need a little bit of both.

  18. Hey I think we have common here! I like being alone too.. And I also shy. Sometimes being with people really discomfort me like, I don’t know what to react to them. I’m a former photographer but now the job I’m taking always makes me encounter new people and I must be able in handling people which I quiet dislike. Also I like writing too, its like a getaway for me after going through heavy days because of my job, but mine aren’t really good. Haha! Well I think this more to a sharing than a comment. Anyways, I like your writings! You inspired me a lot! 😀

  19. Oh hey I suddenly had another thought for you! 😀 Maybe you should go out see and taste new things.. Yourself writing alone in your house and you got a bunch of great stories already, imagine if you’re going out somewhere and you got new cool revelations.. I think it would make you even more creative. Sometimes going out helps us a lot in expressing ourselves. And in your case, you express more of yourself and your creativeness through your writings. You would come out more of great ideas, wonderful stories that I and your loyal readers can’t hardly wait to hear from you. But after all this just an opinion from me 😀

    1. But what if I chance upon an inky-haired girl and she winks at me? Won’t marriage and children ensure? Won’t that be the end of a promising writing career? 🙂

      1. Why should somebody must end what you’re pursuing after? Must you not marry someone who makes you stop do the thing you love the most: writing. :p

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