The Solitude of Being a Writer

Man playing the piano in solitude

If you hate solitude, you probably have no business trying to write for a living. You’ll end up hating writing. And you’ll make yourself and others miserable in the process.

Writing is, for the most part, a solitary endeavor.

It doesn’t matter whether you write online content, copy for an advertising agency, poetry, or novels.

You will struggle. And you will be solitary.

On the outside, writing may appear a whimsy pursuit. The weight of the pen may seem insubstantial compared to the weight of any other tool.

But on your pen rests the whole weight of your world – your experiences, your emotions, your love, your hate, your past, all piled up together.

To write well and keep on writing well, you’ll have to say no to things and people.

You’ll have to be solitary for a few hours almost every day and build yourself a quiet den.

It could be your parents’ room.

It could be a rented flat or a shiny office.

Or maybe your favorite café.

Wherever you build your quiet den, you will be there without being there. You will be physically present. But you will channel your focus in some other place, in that parallel universe where writing happens.

And most people won’t understand you. Your friends won’t (always) understand you either. (Actually, before you know it, you may not even have any friends left.)

And your lover or partner may not understand you either. He or she may take your need for solitude as a personal affront.

Writing is, essentially, an act of solitude.

It’s the art of being alone with your thoughts and emotions and reflecting them on paper. It’s an exercise in patience.

Sometimes I loathe my solitude.

I tear it to shreds with plans of change and transformation, which are like so many claws grown out of pride. I think of other things I could do instead of writing my hours away.

But my body writes the way it breathes or eats or sleeps.

My body likes writing, regardless of what my mind tells me.

And so, it’s easy for me to remain steeped in solitude.

When people try to welcome me into their world, I withdraw.

Solitude is my mistress.

Solitude is my wife.

For her, I write poems.

For her, I write prose.

Because, you see, there is a reward in that solitude.

Solitude distills life. It makes time irrelevant and sharpens all those little details around you that the presence of others blurs.

It connects you deeply to nature and the changing seasons.

It helps you appreciate food, drink, rest, and other things more.

It breathes life into the small things.

Often, I feel that I don’t belong to myself unless I am solitary.

If others surround me, I become a different version of myself.

I say things and behave in ways that surprise me. I play a part, not consciously, but socially. We all do that, whether we want to or not.

That’s why I write as a way of life.

Because I love being my authentic self.

Because I love solitude and cherish it.

Sometimes I overdo it, I know. Hiding in my shell, I miss on life and upset people.

But my shell is part of me, and breaking it isn’t the answer. It won’t help me live well.

Rather, I have to carry it with me. I have to carry it wherever I go.

4 thoughts on “The Solitude of Being a Writer

  1. Authenticity you speak of liking is a kind of honesty and a type of running commentary on ones cognitive activity.

    Sometimes a concentrated experience of contemplation occurs, while one is actually writing, while at other times doing other things, one has that contemplation interrupted and disturbed and distracted by social activity. Generating partial snippets, some of which are unwritten, can be frustrating.

    Not having social interactions, I think may be dangerous for you. Indeed I had considered as a writer to go on a writing retreat in your city and perhaps attempt to meet up, and show you authentic detail in nature outdoors on tree trunks and tree bark, and the latin song lines (a kind of recital of species name sounds, as observed in nature, in narrative order) where one can create text that describes the geography of ones immediate surroundings by tracing a path of species and their existence on tree bark, or indeed in any other physical context.

    As a writer contemplating everything about writing, you provide a valuable social service in contemplation among authors that follow your concise essays, along the lines of Author Author blogger Anne Mini of the west coast USA.

    As you know yourself so well, it is always upsetting to have ones train of thought interrupted. It may also be upsetting to have a point of view that one finds which holds in one case and not in the second case, but perhaps as a generalisation is actually a quite a good initial idea, which on further contemplation, or elaboration, could be improved.

    Anyway, I do worry about you. I hope you keep your self well, and do not neglect partaking in social activity, and enjoy ones own sense of humour, and that you have an interesting life locally with friends, beyond your persona as a online blog writer with many readers of your texts.

  2. I find myself teetering between needing solitude and connections. I go through phases. Right now, I am in a phase of solitude and I have to constantly remind myself that its okay to want this despite what my friends say. If I take this time now to nurture and realize myself, I will be a better truer person when I emerge.

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