Being a writer is by nature a solitary occupation. Hours are spent sitting alone, typing away at a computer. And there is nothing wrong with that if you are happy with the lifestyle. But when solitude becomes loneliness there is a problem that needs to be addressed. This article will give information on how to beat writer loneliness.
Who is at risk?
The people at most risk of loneliness are those who live alone, write full time and have few other interests. If you are retired or your job is writing and you work from home and also live alone, then you are at real risk of loneliness. The clincher is whether you have interests that take you out of the home and interacting with people. If you don’t, then you will probably have few meaningful interactions with other people on a daily basis.
People who have a day job and go to a place of employment other than the home are at less risk because they interact with other people on a daily basis and get out and about. People who have families they live with are at less risk because they have loved ones at home who they interact with on a daily basis.
What matters most though, is how you feel. Some people thrive on solitude and don’t get lonely. Others get dreadfully lonely even when they spend a short time alone.
How to beat writer loneliness
Here’s a list of things you can try related to writing.
- Join a writers group. These are usually groups in which people critique each others’ writing but they are a great way of making friendships with like-minded people. If you are shy (and most writers are indeed introverts) they are great because you are all there for a purpose so there is immediately something to talk about and some structure to the meetings. A writing group also brings accountability because you must submit a piece of work.
- Join a book group. Again, like the writers group they are great for those who are shy, because the topic of conversation has already been set.
- Go out of the house to write, for example in a coffee shop. While you may not interact much with other people you will at least be getting out of the house and being around people. Sometimes a change of scenery and just being around other people is enough.
- Join an online writers forum or critique group. You don’t actually even have to leave the house in order to interact with others. A site such as Scribophile is an excellent way to get feedback on your writing and interact with other writers. I use it myself and thoroughly recommend it.
- Attend writers’ conferences and conventions. There are many writers’ conferences every year you can attend and, depending on the genre you write, there may also be other conventions you can attend based on that genre. For example, I write science fiction and fantasy (SFF) and the calendar is thick with SFF conventions such as Eastercon and Fantasycon. I won’t lie and tell you it’s easy to meet people and strike up conversations because it’s not. If you’re shy I recommend going with a friend if you can. I would go with the mindset that you’re there to learn as much as possible to help your writing, and if you make a friend it’s a bonus.
- Start a blog. Comment on other people’s blogs and join triberr to find other people blogging in your niche. Then ask if you can do guest posts on their sites, and offer them to guest post on yours. You can find yourself with a number of online friends in no time.
- Listen to podcasts on writing. You will learn loads, and the sound of another person’s voice is sometimes all you need to alleviate loneliness. Listening to audiobooks works on the same principle.
These are other steps you could try to beat writer loneliness:
- Get out of the house as much as possible, even if it’s only for a short walk once a day. Exercise lifts mood. As stated above, being around other people can also be very beneficial even if you don’t interact with them.
- Expanding on point 1 above, join an exercise class doing some form of exercise you enjoy. Even if you don’t make friends, you will meet and interact with people.
- Help others. You could volunteer to regularly visit an elderly person for example, or you could help out at an animal shelter, perhaps walking the dogs. Helping others gets you out and interacting with other people, and makes us feel better about ourselves.
- Meditate. Many people find that meditation improves their state of mind, keeping them centred in the moment, positive and productive. If you’ve never tried it, the Headspace app is easy to use and explains techniques well.
- Cultivate interests outside writing and join groups or evening classes associated with them.
- Join a support group for people struggling with loneliness and/or low mood and depression.
If you find yourself getting very depressed you should go to your doctor for help. You will know if the feelings you’re struggling with are more than the normal ups and downs of general life. Depression is a very real possibility when loneliness sets in, and it can become a vicious circle because the more depressed you get the less you want to go out and interact with people, so you isolate yourself and get more lonely and more depressed.
The good news is there are more ways than ever before to interact with others. If you look for support online do it safely and don’t rush into anything.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.