Thursday, September 10, 2015

Follow This Easy Plan to Avoid Isolation as a Writer

“Writing is a solitary job--that is, no one can help you with it, bu there's nothing lonely about it. I have always been too busy, too immersed in what I was doing, either mad at it or laughing at it to have time to wonder whether I was lonely or not lonely. It's simply solitary. I think there is a difference between loneliness and solitude.”
William Faulkner

When you write, it is almost always alone. You may be bodily sharing space with other human beings,  but locked inside your own mind is where the magic happens. This can be tough for some people. It may feel lonely. I get that sometmes. Not when I am actually producing, as Faulkner points out, but more between projects, or just on those days when the words have to be dragged out, instead of flowing easily.

If this is you, there are things you can do to build a “team” of sorts, even in the solitary business of freelancing. There are others out there who also need someone to share their journey with, and they will be happy to come along for the ride, just be sure you are willing to provide value to them in exchange for their company.

Find an Editor

This may be a professional, if you are at that stage in your career, but it doesn't have to be. You may want someone to read every single post you write, or you may only need them for the “important” stuff that you are unsure of, or feel could have an impact.

Here are some qualities to look for in an editor.

      Give honest feedback, you need someone with an opinion, who “gets” you
      Excellent grammar skills. I need a comma Nazi personally, and I am looking for someone
      Understands writing well enough to not just point out weaknesses, but suggest improvements

If you are paying this person, be sure you have the resources to pay their standard rate. Don't ask people to work at a discount, or for free until you have enough success to pay later that may never happen.

Start a Support Group

You can find, or start a writer's, or creative workers support group. Look on Craigslist in your area, or check out Meetups to find likely groups to be part of, or to put out the word for your own group. You can share your writing, talk about technique, and encourage each other.

Here are some things to keep in mind when starting, or contributing to a group.

      Commit. If you say you are going to be there, be there. Others will count on you as much as you do them.
      Contribute. You probably looked for a group because you wanted people to share with, now is not the time be shy. Be an active part of the group.
      Honor other's boundaries and set your own. There are some things that are better not shared with a  group.

This can be a huge source of support and creative inspiration, if you work it. Make sure you don't get involved, unless you are really willing to be a part of a group. I cannot stress this enough. Think of what you would want from group member and be willing to give it before joining up.

Work Outside the House

You may need the privacy of your mind, but in many cases, you can still get out and work around other people from time to time. Laptops are easily portable and most coffee shops have wi-fi. Or, if you are like me, choose one that doesn't so you won't be distracted.

There are also places that offer common work space on certain days of the week for freelancers. Again, Craigslist and Meetup might be good sources for local information.

      Choose a place that has an environment that works for you. Don't expect other people to change their habits to suit you.
      If you are going to a business, such as a cafe, or coffee shop, buy something. They are used to people taking tables for long periods, but not for free, that is rude.
      If all else fails, most public libraries have desks for writing, and lots of research materials at your fingertips.

It is important to stay in touch with the outside world. After all, you are expecting them to read and love your work, and knowing who “they” are can't hurt. New experiences are also necessary to fil up your own inspiration, so go for it!

Take Time Off on Purpose

It's easy to think that the more time you spend writing, the more success you will have, and this is  true, up to a point. But, unless you intend to be a hermit, remember that you probably wanted to do this job, at least in part, to have freedom for other things.

You need to intentionally develop outside interests, so that home does not become so comfortable that you develop an unhealthy attachment to it.

      Start a hobby, especially one that involves other people. Join a sports team, or a club of some sort.
      Get a part time job working with people. It will give your brain a break, and put a little additional money in your pocket that is not dependent on writing. I build things for people.
      Go to church, or synagogue, or whatever works for you. Seeking out others who share your spiritual beliefs can be a strong factor in staying content.

Try a few of these things, or share your own in the comments below. We can all use ways to stay connected. It is good for us, it is good for our art, and we have a lot of  great stuff to contribute to the world at large. You know you're smart and have great ideas, so don't deprive the world of your genius.

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