Writing and Solitude


I’d kind of forgotten what a lonely process writing is.  Looking back, all of my most productive writing times were at points in my life I felt isolated – like, say, middle school.

I honestly think I was a better writer when I was 13 than I am now. My writing then came from a very true, unfiltered place, and wasn’t so hyper-aware of things like markets and publishing. I also didn’t need motivation. I was very much alone. I had no friends and no Internet, and no hobbies besides writing. It’s not like I ever had to say, “Hmm, what am I going to do tonight?” It was either writing or watch TV with Mom.

I’m not very good at being my own cheerleader, and I’m heavily in a “what’s the point?” phase right now. Even with all the goal setting I’ve done in the last few months, even with having a “mission statement” and all that jazz, I think about writing and just think, ugh. I suck at this. I don’t really want to do this. I’ll never be any good at this.

Winter is a great time for solitude, and to get down and dirty with a solitary creative process. And hey, I was snowed in this weekend. I mean, what better, right? No distractions. Can’t go anywhere, do anything. Might as well write, right?

Not so much. The idea was nice, but I wrote for a while, then sighed and thought, “What’s the point?”

Having a creative outlet is really important to me, but one of the reasons I always hit a wall with writing – at least any serious attempt at it – is because I am always doing it with one eye on external validation. I feel like it won’t be good unless my friends think it’s good (and that’s a pretty high standard to hold yourself to when you have as many fantastic writer friends as I do; a blessing and a curse!), and I have this image of having a completed, published book… that this will be the moment I’ll feel accomplished, and everything in my life will be validated.

It’s a pretty unhealthy way to approach a creative endeavor. Destined for heartbreak.

I don’t think I’m quite enough of an introvert anymore to make a good writer, to just hunker down and tune out the world. (And I’m better at hunkering down and tuning out the world than most in modern society, I think.)

In my early twenties, on round one through college, I decided I was a Theater Person. I had done some acting in high school, and in college felt that pull again. I wanted to be with other Theater People, working on creating something magical and wonderful on stage. I took a drama class, and worked backstage in community theater, and had a couple of disastrous auditions, then a somewhat successful improv workshop. I’m lumping together a lot of things, though I don’t remember the exact timeline.

There was a lot of drama in those circles, and I think that’s the nature of it; Theater People are, inherently, dramatic. But there is also this wonderful, deep connection that comes from being a part of something you believe in, and working on it as a team.

Last week’s episode of Glee (find it on Hulu!) was wonderful, and reminded me of that feeling. It is so heartwarming to see our group of misfits come together after a long road and start to really love each other.

No, I’m not going to abandon writing to become a Theater Person again. It reminds me, though, that I’m not as much of an introvert as I sometimes behave. I love people, and I crave connection. I get that as a yoga teacher, but particularly as a BodyFlow teacher. I think teaching BodyFlow is as close as I’ll ever come to my childhood dream of being in musical theater, with its connection of music and movement, the energy that flows between everyone in the room. That’s what I love about theater; the line between “actor” and “audience” is blurred. It’s not like watching a movie or TV show. You’re there. You’re part of the action.

I am not abandoning writing, but I am acknowledging I’ll probably never thrive as a full-time writer. I need people and collaboration. I can’t sit in a room alone and interact with a blank page all day.

A couple hours a week, though? I can do that.

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