View Full Version : Lonely Writer needs butt kicked

08-26-2004, 06:01 AM
Do you find writing novels a lonely art? I do.

Here's the deal: I live on my own, in a new house with an awesome view. I have no debts, and a bit of money stashed away to support my writing vocation.

I'm in good health, have wonderful friends. People tend to like me automatically; I guess cuz I like people too. I volunteer with children and elderly, and am the perfect neighbor.
<img border=0 src="http://www.absolutewrite.com/images/emoteCoffee.gif" />

I have the ideal writing situation, the one many people describe as a pipe dream. Two VAIO computers even. One is a laptop.
<img border=0 src="http://www.ezboard.com/image/posticons/pi_bigsmile.gif" />

I think the solitude, the introspective nature of being a writer, and of course my grieving situation are not healthy for me right now. I have fantasies of working at Wal-Mart or some low-level, mindless job...but I'm spoiled. I don't ever want to work for anyone, punch their clock, or make them rich while I get peanuts. The caveat is that if I don't start making more cash as a writer, I will have to supplement with a real job.
<img border=0 src="http://www.absolutewrite.com/images/emotewha.gif" />

Does the lonely art--writing--ever get you down? I'm curious if you don't mind sharing.

I don't like noise when I'm writing. I get angry when people talk on cell phones, or women constantly giggle in public. That's why I don't write much out of my house. But I think I'm gonna have to find a way.

I've talked to friends about this. I may know the answer. I just for once want the luxury of free advice (instead of always being the one giving it.)

I know I'm out of balance because I live, work, eat, and sleep alone. (I hear some of the mothers out there sighing for one day of my life--ha.)

Since I'm spilling my guts, I'll tell that I was married years ago, for a number of years. I have lived on my own most of my life, strong independent...adore men but don't date much because I hate complications. I'm realizing I'm going to have to change my paradigm about that...but that's for another forum.

I see my situation as the ideal writer's life. But the lonely aspect is getting to me. Enough that I've considered burning all those reams of pages, getting rid of the ubiquitous pens an legal pads, books and studies, and simply live like a human being. I can't stop writing. I think I may be at a crossroads about my commitment and love of writing, and finally making the mature leap to keep at it even if I think I suck. It needs to be emotionally livable, is all.

Also, I have a spiritual practice. I talk to Doug (some of you know him as God; I gave him a name that represents his buddy-power to me.) I believe in the collective unconscious. I am certain I'm on a Dark Night of the Soul. Since my mother's death, I gave into my ability to see and converse with ghosts...so in real ways I'm not alone even when I am. I have been working the alone/lonely issue with focus, and that is why it has now become so glaring. I try not to anesthetize reality!

Okay. Hit me.

08-26-2004, 06:37 AM
You're not alone, Gala. From :hug to :teeth to :rollin to :cry we are a family here at AW and you are a part of it.

I know in a very small way what you mean. On those days when my wife is working and I happen to have the day off to write, by the time she gets home, I can't wait to see her.

Continue to write. Continue to submit. If you have talent, you will get published and you will gain an entire new circle of friends in the publishing industry.

And we'll always be here. http://pages.prodigy.net/rogerlori1/emoticons/biggrininvasion.gif

08-26-2004, 06:48 AM
Gala, you're in similar situation as I am. And yes, I find writing a lonely thing.

That's why I yearn for a good crit group. I also prefer to work at the library or coffeeshop even though I have a nice home office. It keeps me grounded and I also enjoy the ambiance sounds of people chatting and the opportunity to observe.

I also love to brainstorm with friends and family when I have a chance.

However, when I'm actually "writing" I prefer not to be disturbed and I don't like to have people around me chatting up a storm or have friends call me, etc.

I usually "think" a lot about stories, ideas, plots, etc. when I'm driving. That's the type of solitude I enjoy.

08-26-2004, 07:30 AM
I have no debts, and a bit of money stashed away

Marry me!

uh, yer a girl right?

if a guy just sign this domestic partnership paper right here.......


08-26-2004, 07:39 AM
You can move to Canada and get married.

08-26-2004, 08:04 AM

I think writing is lonely as well, but look for your silver lining. I noticed that your post goes from very positive to very negative very quickly. You know what good things you have. Cultivate them. Don't indulge in self-pity for too long - it's counterproductive. I often bemoan my lack of time to write, and if I spent half of that time writing, I'd be a lot better off.

I don't know what you are grieving about, but I hope things begin to look up for you soon. :heart

Tish Davidson
08-26-2004, 09:44 AM
I've found that the more time I have, the less I actually get down on paper. I decided I needed more structure to my writing (my for myself fiction writing. I have plenty of structure in my for pay non-fiction writing) so I took an evening creative writing class at community college. It didn't cost very much, and to my surprise, at least 1/3 -1/2 of the class were adults 35+, so I felt at home, since I am far past the +. The class gave me new writers to interact with, and it also gave me deadlines. I am good with deadlines. When someone tells me I have to produce, I produce. I didn't always get to write what I wanted, but on the other hand, I often found an assignment was a springboard to getting going on writing something that was important to me. Like any class, I got out of it what I put into it, but it helped me out of a rut and also forced me to experiment with different styles - a dialogue story, for example, that I would never had written otherwise. So, you might think about doing something like that. This is a good time of the year to enroll, as most schools are just starting. I also think if you can find an in-person critique group, that might help with the lonliness of writing and give you some new like-minded acquaintances.

08-26-2004, 09:58 AM
What I need is to be around people more, while I'm working. Being alone days at a time is making me miserable. Something in my heart has shifted, because I used to love being by myself for long stretches.

My challenge is that I am easily distracted by noise. At the same time, some of my best writing has been done on Las Ramblas in Barcelona. I can do it if I am focused.

I'm quering my friends for ideas. Perhaps some will invite me to write in their basements or place of business.

I know I can't be productive for now working these long stretches in isolation. For one thing, I do tend to fall into self pity over all the recent deaths in my family. I've tried to get other writers to hook up for writeins, to no avail. I'd take an advanced writing class, just for the juice, if there was one.

I am published, and have a bit of income from freelancing. I want the big time, and I'm willing to do what it takes to accomplish this dream.

I am relieved for putting my little secret out there.
<img border=0 src="http://www.ezboard.com/image/posticons/pi_bigsmile.gif" />

Here's part of the answer: I can make a writing tour of every cafe in this small town. I can write at the town square, under the oaks. Maybe at the church I sometimes attend. There will be a click. The startbucks is unfortunately populated with screaming teens....but hey...school started, didn't it?

Any more ideas? And I ask you to hold me to this. (For more on Dark Nights read Thomas Moore's excellent Dark Nights of the Soul.
<img border=0 src="http://www.ezboard.com/image/posticons/pi_star.gif" />


Tish Davidson
08-26-2004, 10:05 AM
How about earplugs in the library?

08-26-2004, 10:27 AM
I was just going to suggest earplugs or white noise at home.

08-26-2004, 11:43 AM
Tish--you've hit on an important aspect of my conundrum. I may actually have too much time to write on my novel.

What I'm facing is that no matter how I arrange my life, I may not be designed to write novels full time. For me full time means 50 to 60 hours per week. When I do that, working on fiction, I get stir crazy. I keep trying to change, and it's not working. <img border=0 src="http://www.ezboard.com/image/posticons/pi_freak.gif" />

With a novel, there are no instant rewards, no fast sense of accomplishment. Sure, I keep milestones for myself, but they aren't tangible.

When I play violin in a symphony, I know I've worked hard, loved the music, made people happy. I have full sensory perception of the experience.

Oh yes, I have wonderful earplugs too. <img border=0 src="http://www.absolutewrite.com/images/emoteThumbs.gif" />

I've been in critique groups over the years, and would like to again. The challenge there is finding the folks. I was in a group here for a while, but the backbiting drove me away, and the best novelest, who was seeking pub for his completed manuscript, gave up writing. Bummer.

Thanks for the continued ideas. I'll consider them all.

08-26-2004, 05:59 PM
If you have a car, can you find a lonely beach to sit and write on? I always find the sea a great source of comfort.

I'm sorry for your continued - and understandable - grief. This won't be helping, so you must make the same allowances for yourself that you would make for someone else in the same situation. It's terribly easy to expect more of yourself than you would of others.

Be kind to yourself and stay well.

Best wishes,

08-26-2004, 08:21 PM
No beach, but some lakes.

I am missing the sea though and my go to Mexico for a bit.

Yeah, being in nature helps. The days I hike a always happier days, and more productive writing.

08-26-2004, 09:41 PM
Seems you know all the things you need to do, Gala. You have plenty of interests that can draw you out of the house when you need them, a circle of friends to turn to, but here's one thought...no, two...

First, let the loneliness be. It is, unfortunately or fortunately, a part of the writing process. Give yourself time to grieve, time to draw what strength you can from solitude; don't fight it. It can actually add depth to your writing. You'll know when it's time to get out, play your violin with strangers, let romance find you, and you'll still have the solitary place to write from.

Second, don't dismiss the Wal-Mart idea. I mean, forget Wal-Mart, it's no place to spend your day, but don't dismiss the idea of doing a little part-time work in a field outside writing. Pick a business that will give you a chance to learn something new.

The first time my freelance career crashed and burned, the loneliness and isolation were the biggest reasons. I took a job in a nursery for $8/hour, just to get some cash coming in. At first I found punching a time clock and wearing a nametag humiliating. But the work began to change me. Instead of spending my days glaring at the computer screen and beating myself up, I was out in the sunshine and rain, doing light physical labor hauling shrubs and trees around (lost 20 lbs that first summer), and talking to people about gardening.

I got over my aversion to working for someone else. Having to show up on their schedule gave me some much-needed structure. Besides, "normal" people do it all the time, why should I be exempt?

I've kept going back there, seasonally or for longer stretches, for four years now. It's become my refuge of sanity and human contact. Right now, though my writing work is keeping me extremely busy, I can't wait for the fall season to start so I can pick up a weekend shift and start helping people decide whether this magnolia or that flowering crab would look better in their garden, or explaining why they shouldn't plant an azalea in full sun here on the edge of the prairie.

This one desparation move has done wonders for my writing as well as my overall attitude. I've learned more about landscaping there than I could have anywhere else - knowledge I'm now building into a garden-writing niche.

Just something to keep in mind.

08-26-2004, 11:36 PM
Whoa! You understand me perfectly. I have indeed considered nursery work. Most of my endeavors involve paper work. Court Advocate is a paperwork nightmare at times. Fortunately my case ended recently with with a good resolution and I was smart enough to turn down a case for a bit. They almost convinced me to take on grant writing. Thank God in a moment of sanity I turned that down too.

Anyway, all these replies have been invaluable, but this last one, well it's like you're reading my mind.

So thanks a ton. The Internet is a Goood Thang.


08-27-2004, 01:27 AM
You might be surprised--I was--to find out how many people in nurseries are corporate refugees trying to break out of the rat race and "creatives" trying to get out of the house. I've worked out in the trees with lawyers, computer programmers, teachers and school administrators, marketing executives, and quite a few writers. Among the customers and employees, you never know who you're going to meet, which is one of the things that keep me going back. The other is the discount on plants.

Good luck.

pina la nina
08-27-2004, 03:33 AM
Ok first off - I TOTALLY misread the title of your thread and whew - can I just say how relieved I am? - I was thinking this turned into a bawdy personals ads. So - dragging my mind away from that rather unfortunate visual...

I've often thought that if I somehow became so wealthy I didn't have to work I still would, but part-time, just to keep my feet on the ground. I love people and I love work - physical work that gets somewhere and you have an accomplishment or at least a smile for the cup of coffee you handed somebody.

I think that some kinds of jobs are luxuries - working in a bike shop if you love bikes, working in a kitchen if you love to cook - both are menial jobs that I've loved - they were enough money to live on (barely) and they gave me real satisfaction every day and I met the coolest weirdest people.

When I had more time (pre-kids) I wrote less and less well. Now that I have less time, I work harder and write better. Maybe a certain sense of pressure is important to producing, for me at least. I find that the busier I am, the more stress I feel, the more the need comes to write. Perverse but true.

08-27-2004, 04:14 AM
Ah, Gala, Gala! I wish I could offer you some wise counsel, but I'm sitting here staring at 4 folders, each containing an unfinished manuscript. A fifth folder contains a dozen unsubmitted short stories. When you find the answers to your issues, please play it forward. :grin

Tish Davidson
08-27-2004, 06:09 AM
I wouldn't underestimate the advice to get out and do something physical with part of your day. For quite a while I did dog walking for a pet sitting service. It was very flexible - you signed up on a per job basis that lasted anywhere from a weekend to three weeks and involved from 1-3 visits a day. I found getting out in the morning and walking a couple of dogs got my day off to a good start and let me think about what I wanted to write, then doing the same in the early evening let me review my writing for the day. Exercise is also good for depression and grief.

08-27-2004, 06:32 AM
Do volunteer work.

08-27-2004, 07:24 AM
I hike. But mostly alone. Aha. <img border=0 src="http://www.ezboard.com/image/posticons/pi_bigsmile.gif" />

I volunteer plenty. I'm changing what I do there, because the social work was so draining. After 3 years at it, a break fron Court Advocate is advised. I'll be doing music and art very soon. Hallelujah! And the art will be for kids, so there ya go.

There's a term called "Lettuce Pickers". In the early boom days of software companies, when the dudes worked 80 and 100 hour weeks, they burned out fast. Some of them went to Cal. to pick lettuce.

Now, I know I don't want to do that, cuz as a kid I picked fruit all summer and it gets boring fast. I do like the concept however, and I'm gonna check the nurseries around here. I know I would go insane at Wal-mart in about a day.

Thanks for the continued replies. Today's big social event was hitting the library. I ran into an artist friend who offered to beta my novel when it's ready. One doesn't get that kind of feedback sitting home alone ;)

08-27-2004, 07:27 AM
My clear advice to you is to pick one project and work it though it's current stage. When you're done, you get bragging rights.

While it rests, work one of the others. Then go back to the first.

File the rest away where you can't see them. They'll be waiting, and cheering to you from their filing drawers, "Go Liam, Go Go Go Boy...."

08-27-2004, 09:36 AM
Sage advice, Gala.

08-27-2004, 07:50 PM
Liam is a go go boy? I hardly knew... :b

08-28-2004, 08:42 AM
*gives Ray a manly hug*

08-28-2004, 10:41 AM
I've been following the Olympics a bit online (no TV) and felt like cheering somebody. <img border=0 src="http://www.ezboard.com/image/posticons/pi_bigsmile.gif" />

To top off all I'm challenged with, I've quit drinking coffee.
<img border=0 src="http://www.ezboard.com/image/posticons/pi_grr.gif" />

08-29-2004, 12:49 AM
Think about volunteering Gala.

You can pick your own hours and pick where you're going to volunteer. If you don't like it, you can try another place. And volunteering can lead to employment if you need it down the line.


08-29-2004, 12:52 AM
Thanks wwwatcher. I've already touched on this a lot, so won't repeat. At times I volunteer up to 20 hours per week, but I try to keep it to 5. I need my few hours beauty rest so when I catch myself in the mirror during bathroom breaks from writing I don't look like this:
<img border=0 src="http://www.ezboard.com/image/posticons/pi_freak.gif" />

09-07-2004, 12:56 AM
You all were generous in letting me whine and moan my plight. Your response kept me focused on a solution, instead of my usual, "Yeah I know all the answers and nobody can tell me more."

A few changes:
Finally visited neighbors I know through CASA who've been inviting me over for a year. Subsequently I'm cat sitting while he has an unexpected surgery. Will get me outside away from desk for a short walk twice a day. I'll still take hikes, but going to someone's house and puttering a little feels sociable.

Volunteered for a landscaping project I would've previously ignored. Guy hasn't called, but I made myself available. Meanwhile, I put up a birdbath in the yard that requires daily vigilence; installed feeder. Birds keep me co. from the computer desk. It's the little things.

Volunteered for a neighborhood watch program that's gearing up soon. May actually be getting to know more neighbors...also made supreme effor to socialize with neighbors I'd never met, (and didn't want to because I don't like their yard) at a recent neighborhood meet. They acted surprised, having never seen me. So was I.

Best news:
I had participated in an art project to help the homeless a while back. This weekend was a reception. I didn't want to go, did. The upshot is I joined an artist's guild, and am co-renting a studio space with a painter. Most or all in the guild are painters, sculptors. I may be the only writer, but they're glad to have me.

This means I will have a sense of going to work, see a few people, their progress in painting, maybe chat at the coffee pot; then return to my basement room and lock the door. I'll be there when the painter isn't, but her work will grace the side opposite where I'm working. Room has a window ;)

I feel more a humane bean being part of an artist's studio. They have critique sessions; maybe they'll let me sit in. I'll see workshops in the big rooms. I know this tangible artistic activity in my writing environment will cheer.

More important, when I'm home I'll feel like I'm at home, not always at work. The separation is healthy at this time.


09-09-2004, 05:26 AM
>"The upshot is I joined an artist's guild, and am co-renting a studio space with a painter."

Brilliant! Why isn't the world full of places like that? To be able to walk into a studio full of artists every day and work in the same kind of hyper-creative environment, sharing their progress and yours? What a cool way to work!

Might only work well with creative writing, though. My phone interviews about distribution of industrial products might break their creative moods. Does mine, at times.

Well done!


09-09-2004, 10:37 PM
Thanks dug. I pick up my key today, hopefully.

I have been productive in my home office, but with many distractions--like my neighbor calling to borrow the wheelbarrow yesterday.

And there's the old saw that when you work at home, and you're a writer, people keep asking, "What do you do?" and offering to "stop by and see your yard tomorrow..." <img border=0 src="http://www.ezboard.com/image/posticons/pi_grr.gif" /> No biggie, but it'll be fun to stump 'em all "I wonder where she is all the time?" I've actually been accused of being retired! (most of my neighbors are, and are home a lot, so can't blame them. Except I'm still a baby, unlike them.)

<img border=0 src="http://www.ezboard.com/image/posticons/pi_geek.gif" />

09-10-2004, 04:09 AM
That's great, Gala. I'm so pleased you felt strong enough to make a move. Well done. Big gold star!!!


09-10-2004, 06:24 PM
Best Wishes,


09-11-2004, 08:57 PM

I was productive my first full day in the studio space. Took a break to observe a group painting in oil. I am in awe of people who paint.

I stopped by the tail end of a charity event after work. Ran into a neighbor who said, "Oh I was going to stop by today..." ha ha.

If nothing else working my book in a new setting has gotten me off center in re-writing the weakest parts.


08-17-2015, 11:27 PM
I get the loneliness. Sitting in front of my laptop day after day, get's tough. Thing is, I want to be a writer and writing is a solitary endeavor. If we're lucky, we don't end up neurotic alcoholics, just neurotic, or, alcoholic.

08-17-2015, 11:30 PM
Pssst! Cassidy, over here! This thread's last reply was in September, 2004. We call it necro-ing to bring such a thread back to life.

08-18-2015, 12:48 AM
I keep forgetting to check the dates......this whole internet thing has me flummoxed.:flag:Hopefully it's just a fad like pet rocks (now those I understood)