Solitude and isolation are not the same thing.
Solitude is taking a brief break from the world to reconnect with yourself and to turn off the noise that harms your inner peace. Isolation is cutting yourself off from the world while being in a state of imbalance with yourself.
Writing is a solitary act. It’s the precious time we give ourselves to step inside a bubble of creativity and express ourselves through words. After all, we write because it centers us and brings peace of mind within the chaos of our lives.
Solitude can evolve into isolation when your aloneness becomes a pattern. And it’s this isolation that can lead to loneliness and troublesome thoughts.
So, what are the best ways on how to overcome loneliness as a writer?
It’s all about keeping your solitude in check before it slides into isolation. This, of course, is easier said than done. Whenever loneliness starts to creep into your life, manage your situation by shifting how you spend your non-writing time.
Spend Time with Family & Friends
Start with who you know. Your friends and family members can be a great support system, whether they live states away or in the next room of your house.
The key here is to be intentional with your time. That means closing your laptop, turning off your phone and hiding any smart device that can send you alerts. Don’t let your writing or the Internet pull you away from face time with your loved ones.
Play a game. Dine together. Converse. Choose an activity that emphasizes human interaction.
This is a great place to start on how to overcome loneliness as a writer. That’s because, more times than not, writers are introverts who still enjoy the company of their spouse, kids, siblings, parents and/or friends.
Write Away from Home
It helps to be around people, even if you don’t interact with them. Start with one day a week to see how a change of scenery and background noise impacts your mindset.
The good news here is that if conversing with strangers is scary, it’s not required. Simply soak in the vibration of conversation around you without saying a word. You’ll be amazed at how much energy it brings back to your emotional and mental health just seeing other people engage around you.
Even in this post-pandemic world, you still have options to write outside of your home. There are coffeeshops, coworking spaces, mall food courts and parks that abide by social distancing protocols. Your options may be a bit further of a commute than your usual go-to haunts, so think of it as a new adventure rather than an inconvenience.
Finding the right writing spot outside your home, especially these days, demands diligent research prior to walking out the door. Yes, this may entail calling the business. Think of it as a warmup on how to overcome loneliness as a writer.
Join a Writing Group
Chances are, not many people in your inner circle share your love for writing. If this is true, your opportunity to talk about writing rarely extends beyond “what are you working on?” and “that’s nice.”
It never hurts to discover more writers. In fact, it can be the perfect way on how to overcome loneliness as a writer by immersing yourself in a community of local (or not-so-local) writers.
Start your search for the perfect writing group here and here. You can also discover local writing group announcements by searching across social media and library websites as well as reviewing in-person notices on coffeeshop and bookstore community boards. If you’re up for an adventure, there are even summer writing camps where you can both travel and discuss writing with likeminded writers.
Join a Non-Writing Group
Diving back into your passions can jumpstart your creativity on your writing project. It also can be how to overcome loneliness as a writer, especially when you surround yourself with company that shares your same interests.
Join a book club or an amateur sports league. Sign up for a cooking class or an online conference. Get involved in a volunteer club or a community event. What’s important is that you’re engaging with others while doing something you love (besides writing, of course).
You can start exploring your non-writing group options online through these group-coordination platforms:
Adopt a Pet
Animals can’t replace human interaction. That being said, a pet’s companionship can be the irreplaceable friendship that you’re craving.
Years ago, I had both a dog and a cat who sat with me as I wrote in the sunniest room of the house. They never criticized my writing and supplied the comfort I needed. That’s why I never saw it as a chore to feed them, cleaning up their messes, walk them (well, just the dog), hang out outside supervised and play with them. We each had a role to play in each of our lives.
Adding a pet to your life can be the solution on how to overcome loneliness as a writer because you become more than a writer—you are now a pet owner. And this title pushes you to do things outside of your comfort zone for the love of your pet, be it making small talk at a dog park or going outside multiple times a day (rain or shine) for a walk or a potty break.
Dogs aren’t the only kind of pet you can adopt. Cats, turtles, birds, rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, ferrets, rats, mice, fish—you can choose the pet that meets your comfort level.
I want to make a BIG disclaimer on this one. You must adopt a pet for the right reasons. You are fully responsible for seeing to your pet’s needs, including (but not limited to) food, shelter, exercise and love. A pet is not a quick fix to your loneliness but a cohabitational lifestyle change. Adopt a pet only if you are committed to providing for their needs, even if those needs are at times an inconvenience.
Not sure if you can handle the responsibility of a pet? Start by taking care of a plant. Tending to a flower, a cactus or an indoor plant can get you in the habit of taking care of something, especially if you’ve never had a pet or it’s been years since you’ve had one in your life.