Thursday, March 25, 2010


If you're a writer, then at some point, you will spend time alone. It's inevitable. Unless you're co-writing something, you will be alone when you write, in terms of you with the pen (or keyboard), your own thoughts coming to fruition on paper. Sure, some people can write while in a crowd, in a cafe, in a library. But for most people, the act of writing is a solitary one.

And I rather like it.

In life, being alone is healthy, to a degree. I think one should be comfortable in one's own skin, with one's own thoughts. I know people who HATE to be alone, even for a single minute of the day, and I actually feel sorry for them. Now, I'm not advocating that writers should become hermits. In fact, if we did, we would miss out not only on very necessary human interaction for ourselves, but also for our writing. We'd be less likely to accurately portray human nature, the complex dynamics of relationships, or even the sounds/nuances of dialogue, if we spent all our days alone.

But - a person (a writer, especially) should be able to be alone without falling apart - without panicking and needing "someone" to be in the same room. I think it's healthy, enjoying solitude. In fact, I love what Thoreau says here:

I think that I cannot preserve my health and spirits, unless I spend four hours a day at least - and it is commonly more than that - sauntering through the woods and over the hills and fields, absolutely free from all worldly engagements. ~Henry David Thoreau

Of course, this is unrealistic for most of us, who must work and live in the real world, amongst people. And 4 hours seems quite extreme. However, the reasoning behind Thoreau's words rings true: solitude in order to preserve health and spirits. That's a wonderful reason to seek solitude from time to time - rejuvenation, renewal of the spirit.

So, today, if possible, find a little corner of your home, of your life, and be alone with your own thoughts. Pray, meditate, or simply just let your thoughts go. Look out a window and watch that plump dove perch itself on the fence post, or muse at those puffy clouds floating by. Just sit and be still for a moment. It's amazing, what can come out of that silence: peace, rest, reflection - and yes, inspiration.

Nowhere can man find a quieter or more untroubled retreat than in his own soul. ~Marcus Aurelius


  1. I am in the situation where I have too much time on my hands!!! My husband just started working overnights and I've had too much time with my thoughts, however I am enjoying the time to work on my current WIP so I'd say it's been a success!

  2. I totally understand - years ago, when my ex-husband was working about 15 hours a day, 6 days a week, I found myself all alone, for TOO long, every day (in a new city, so I didn't yet have any friends). I found ways to cope - making myself go out window shopping or driving around, even watching t.v. (something oddly comforting about having other voices in the room, lol). But, like you said, I did also use that time to write my first novel, so it was a good thing, in a way.

    Oddly, I sometimes miss those days (umm, NOT my ex, lol), because my life right now feels so crowded sometimes, with work and obligation and people and meetings...I feel like I hardly get a moment to myself and sometimes crave that solitude.

    I guess a healthy balance would be ideal. I seem only able to experience the extremes. :-P

  3. I embrace solitude. (It's 12:45 in the middle of the night. You think?)

    I think that's why I am such a night owl. It's my solitude. I need to spend more of that time writing and a lot less time farting around on Facebook. *grumbles - stupid time-sucking vortex*

  4. Ahhh...solitude. Love it. Why just today I sat in my porch with bright sun filtering through and did reading and praying. Wonderful Thoreau quote!