The Art of Being Alone

If you’re a writer, you’re going to spend a good bit of time on your own. And whilst it’s a cliche to say writers are introverts, you’ve got to be comfortable enough in your own company to be able to spend extended period on your lonesome, writing your masterpieces.

In general, solitude is often viewed as a ‘bad thing’ – so much so it’s used as a punishment. It’s not ‘natural’. Loners go on killing sprees, they think radical thoughts and with all the technology we have, we still can’t peek inside anyone’s mind. We believe that if a person is interacting with us, we have some window into what they’re thinking. Someone who’s alone could be thinking anything – which is kind of why we writers like it. Whilst we may be naturally social animals, we all need time alone.

Why? Well, when you’re connected twenty-four seven and have a million voices speaking at you at once, how can you possibly know what are your thoughts and what are someone else’s? Without time alone, we can’t process all the information we’re getting and end up just regurgitating other peoples words as our own.

Listening to the voice in your head is scary. Writers do it all the time – and it isn’t always fun. What if you hear the wrong thing, something dark and gruesome that comes from inside you? What if you don’t hear anything at all, just watch a barrage of tumbleweeds rolling through your noggin? Well, that’s just the risk you’re going to have to take.

Being alone isn’t the same as being lonely. You can be lonely in a room full of people. The thoughts in your head may make you feel something, but being alone is not a negative or positive emotional state, just a neutral one.

So go be alone. Write alone, think alone and don’t apologise for it. Solitude is necessary. Defend it.

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