Monday, November 23, 2015

Writing, the Land of Isolation

Ever hear of a socially active writer? No? Me either. Writing is by nature a solitary pursuit. And you do pursue it. You're constantly chasing characters into seedy dives, hiding in corners, behind sticky menus, and tall drinks just to spy on them and get the story. It is true that writers need solitary times and quiet, but they also need connections, especially chronic pain sufferers. You can't survive in a bubble.

Since my husband died I spend much of my time alone. Immediately after his death I discovered what isolation really meant. I also struggle with joint problems and fatigue. I was amazed at how people abandon you when you have a chronic illness.

It is important for writers to get out and talk to other people, particularly if you are dealing with chronic pain or simple isolation overload. You need brain stimulation and to talk to other writers. You need material. Maybe you have a problem you need to work out and discuss. The only way to do that is to have some sort of connection with other people, particularly writers. That's really hard because, well, we stay home and write.

After I found myself alone in a dark house, I started looking for ways to interact with anyone who'd give me the time of day. I had to just write off a whole group of people. I ended up spending a lot of time online on a blog site and made lots of stranger friends who have turned into some of my most loyal contacts. I looked for other people who write wherever I could find them.

After seven years, I know a few dozen people who write. Some of those are even published. I'm involved with National Novel Writing Month and in November I will see a lot of writers. I've been in a few writing groups. All of this made a huge difference.

Still, on average writers spend much of their time in isolation. It is a lonely existence. And other writers can tell you're lonely because when you get a bunch of writers together we hang on to every word someone says and we talk as much as possible . . . mostly about writing: how, when, where, with what, to what effect, etc.

Recently I obtained an "online writing partner" through a site that specialized in this. We've both been surprised at how much of our taste we share in common. We've even read a lot of the same books, although we write in slightly different genres. For a couple of months now, we been meeting online via skype once a week to catch up, chat, and share our writing.

For me, the contact with other writers is important. It keeps me grounded and encourages me. Hearing about the difficulties other writers experience reminds me that I'm not over reacting or imagining things. Learning about how they write, handled problems in their writing, and their successes all motivate me and provide me with tools to help me handle my own writing difficulties.

Writing is a lonely experience. I've been fortunate to develope a circle of people who understand and make me feel less isolated. If you are a writer, don't sit in the dark alone, at least, not all the time. Find way to connect to other writers. It will make the Land of Isolation a lot less empty.

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