How to fight loneliness as a work-from-home writer
“When I worked as an editor at a greeting card company, my boss said, ‘Boredom isn’t a bad thing. It inspires creativity.’
Boredom and loneliness are the reasons I became a writer.
As a child, I often rode my bike to the Northeast Regional Library in Philadelphia and piled books into a purple, flowered basket. Inside those books were friends who placated me for my dearth of real friends.
Boredom drove me to our kitchen table with pen and paper one evening when I was 10, where I wrote my first short story – ‘Happy-Go-Lucky’ – about a horse that died. (The horse was neither happy nor lucky.)
My mom’s enthusiasm for the story clinched my decision to become a writer.
But too much boredom or loneliness can also stop creativity cold.
I once asked a friend who worked from home, ‘Do you ever get lonely?’ She looked at me like I was crazy.
‘Of course not,’ she said.
So I kept my feelings of loneliness to myself.
I’d volunteer more at our kids’ schools. I’d meet a friend for a walk. I’d think about getting a “real” job. Unfortunately, none of those put words on the page.
For me, writing well means vast swatches of time alone to let ideas and characters ripen. It means sitting in a quiet house day after day after day.
So what’s a lonely or bored writer to do (other than spending inordinate amounts of time on Facebook or other social media?)
The following suggestions may help you find the right balance between the quiet you require and the outreach you crave.
1. Find an accountability buddy.
My accountability buddy is a member of my in-person critique group. Jill and I exchange daily e-mails. ‘Good morning! What are your intentions for today? I’m going to write for one and a half hours, then….’ At day’s end, we share whether we achieved our intentions, surpassed them or fell short. If one of us even thinks about slacking off, the other writes, ‘Remember, even 30 minutes of writing matters.’
We’ve motivated each other to get up early, work late and do whatever is necessary to get those words on paper. And in the process, we’ve kept each other’s spirits buoyed and that feeling of isolation at bay.
Authors April Henry and D. L. Garfinkle are accountability buddies, even though they’ve met in ‘real life’ only once, for about an hour. They encourage one another to push harder and write more through nightly e-mails. They also share thoughts on parenting, spouses, books.
Their writing gets done because they committed to signing a contract.
At a recent conference, Bruce Coville told how he and the late Paula Danziger had been accountability buddies. When daily phone calls weren’t enough to motivate them to get those pages written, they upped the ante. If one person did not meet a daily writing goal, he or she had to make a small donation to the political party he or she most disliked.
Those pages got written.”