Miscellaneous

#WW: The Lonely Writer

#WW: The Lonely Writer

Writing can be lonely. The career often demands hours of solitude – aside from our characters – and while our characters can be very real to us, there are still those days where a living, breathing human being might be nice to talk to. Most of the time, this urge only comes to me when I can’t find the strength to face my characters, and one of those times is right now.

I won’t call it writer’s block. I don’t believe in it. Writer’s block is almost a hysteria to me. But I can admit that I currently have writer’s depression – well, in reality, I think it’s safe to say I am depressed – but calling it writer’s depression allows me to focus on how my sadness affects my writing life.

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Ever since losing my publisher, it has been difficult. It has been hard to face my characters, and for more reasons than one. The main one is the idea of admitting to them that their stories might never be told. After all the work we’ve done together, it’s hard to admit this, even if it’s not entirely for certain. Other issues arise when I think about how I’m truly just talking to myself, even though talking to my characters does not feel that way at all. The strangeness bubbles up when I can admit that I’m okay with sounding crazy, but I’m not quite sure how to tell my characters about all of the changes that have taken place in my life…so, I’ve been avoiding them. It sounds silly, I know, but it feels a lot like not having the energy to visit with friends after you’ve had a rough week. You’re too tired – a bit too sensitive – and you don’t want to take out your emotions on your friends, so you stay home to avoid hurting your friendships.

I don’t want to destroy my characters.

You see, when I go through a rough time, I generally write a lot, but I write new things: a poem, a shiny new plotline, a card, this blog post. I don’t like writing in whatever I was writing in beforehand because my mindset has been altered for the time being, and during this time, I don’t want to accidentally disrupt the flow of a previous manuscript or scene or character. (Because this has happened before.)

It’s entirely insensible, but I understand that this is how my writing style works. On the contrary – if a character gets too demanding (like a best friend who shows up spontaneously to forcibly drag you out of your dungeon of Cheez-Its and blankets and kittens) then, I make a hesitant exception, and I try to listen to them, and this is generally when I realize little details have been missing from the manuscript before. So, I add them, and I slowly crawl out of my writer’s hole, and I pick up a pen, and I try again, and eventually, I know my characters – and my readers – still love me in the same way I still love them, in the undying way I love writing no matter how lonely it gets.

It is simply nice to talk about it with someone sometime.

Thank you for listening,

~SAT

P.S. Because I’m not writing right now, I do have a lot of free time for additional services! I connect authors with book reviewers and interviewers. I edit stories. I even create photos and give advice on social media. (And I like to believe my prices are far beyond fair. Seriously. I buy a Jimmy John’s sandwich for lunch.) Check out the full list of Services right here or email me at shannonathompson@aol.com.

47 thoughts on “#WW: The Lonely Writer

  1. This is so true. Sometimes you need a break away from writing. I used to jump all over myself for not writing daily, but in order to have output, you need to have input. Have you read “The Artist’s Way” – Julia Cameron? She talks about having weekly Artist Dates to boost creativity/well being.

    1. I haven’t read “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Camerson, but I have just bookmarked it! Thank you for the recommendation. It sounds very interesting. Thank you for reading and commenting as well. :]
      ~SAT

  2. Do I ever know how you feel! I lost my best friend, boyfriend, car, and home within the past few months, and my characters became my friends. I didn’t want to take my problems out on those around me. Instead, my characters had to deal with my issues. They are currently in a torturous journey. They must endure this beautiful agony that I had to endure.

    I fall into writer’s depression. Mine looks a little different, but I can assure you, it is essentially the same. You are never just talking to yourself though. When you experience pain, your characters must experience that same pain. As a result, your readers must also experience the pain.

    But, when you experience victory, your characters will bask in that same triumph, and your readers will feel enlightened. Good writing portrays the fact that we deal with depression, and we deal with pain. We deal with hardship and agony, but the best writing portrays the hope in it all. The best writing says, “life sucks, but you’re going to get through the bad times. You will achieve your purpose. There is meaning in the muck.”

    There is even meaning in the muck of aloneness. There is meaning behind the writer’s depression. I honestly wish we could be friends because I like the way you think. Oh well, I will just leave a comment and maybe email you sometime about the novel I am writing. Hope to hear from you. Check out my blog if you get a chance, and email me if you just wanna chat, and get away from your characters for a mini-while.
    😉 I occasionally have a cup of tea with strangers before living every moment with my characters.
    ~ hannaharstories@gmail.com

    1. Hannah,

      You say so many truths in one comment! I agree – writing should show pain and hardships – and I believe my work does, too, but I find myself sharing those pains once I have gotten through it rather than right in the moment. (I think that’s why I like writing new plot lines during writer’s depression, because I can incorporate the current pain without allowing that current pain to destroy the delicate prose that – I suppose – I could always edit later on). But I understand completely where you’re coming from! I’ll send you an email shortly! My email is shannonathompson@aol.com. I would love to hear about your current story.
      Thank you for reading and commenting.
      ~SAT

  3. Writing is necessarily lonely, isn’t it? It often has to be a retreat and not always a pleasant one. The theme song to my writing, even the happier words, is “Boulevard of Broken Dreams.”

  4. Shannon, I read your posts with interest but from the perspective of a much older person. Certainly things look bleak at the moment but you have to be patient. Everything has its time. What seems like a catastrophe now won’t seem so five years down the line when you are able to put what you have learned from these experiences into practice and are a much stronger, more robust person. Along with real, human interaction (without it we can’t write realistic characters) patience is all that’s needed – honestly.

    1. Oh, yes! I agree. I don’t think this is the end all, be all. I only wanted to express what the “now” can feel like and how it can affect the current writing, but I know I will get through it eventually. :]
      ~SAT

  5. What an incredible post, and one I think many can relate to!

    Being a writer can be very lonely, and I think sometimes the worst people to talk to can be other writers 😀 When they are on a roll with their writing, it can really make it harder to be positive about our own which we might be struggling with.

  6. I actually enjoy the loneliness part of writing only because I don’t get it very often. Phone going off, people texting, and there usually being someone else in the house tends to eliminate the sensation. That’s just me though.

    As far as wondering if the characters’ stories will ever be told, I wondered about that for over a decade. I spent this time submitting and getting rejected by publishing companies and doing the ‘work a real job until my time comes’ motions. I was leaving my books alone out of the same fears that I’d taint them with depression and that there was no point if nobody wanted to read them. I kept writing when someone reminded me how many authors didn’t get hot until later in life or after death. If I suddenly catch fire in the author world and already have several books finished then that makes things a little easier and more long term. Even if that doesn’t happen, my family would have all these stories to look at and maybe one of them will do something with them. This might be why many of my stories revolve around the concept of destiny.

    Hope you pull out of the writer depression soon. Sometimes you just need patience to get through the rough times. Other times you simply need to relax and think outside of the box to make your own silver lining.

    1. “Other times you simply need to relax and think outside of the box to make your own silver lining.” <– I love this. (And your entire comment). Great points. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the topic. I always keep writing. I just have to write something new rather than work on older manuscripts because of disrupting the "flow" or the energy of the manuscript. I know that sounds strange – and perhaps I didn't express that well – but my writing style has always been that way. Create during depression moments and complete during peaceful moments. I actually have to agree with you on the loneliness part! Most of the time, I love it, but there are times, I don't.
      ~SAT

      1. I get it. Honestly, I was like that back when I started. I had to train myself to get back into a flow after a delay when life changed. Typically this involves reading the last two or three pages of what I did in utter silence. That’s just what works for me though. Hopping onto another project definitely has the benefit of putting another arrow in your WIP quiver. Can never have too many of those.

  7. I enjoy reading your blog, Shannon. There are lots of blogs about writing out there, and some are better than others, but I find yours to be always interesting and well written.

    I am a sixty year old guy, so I may be looking at things from a different perspective, but in this life all things seem to ‘ebb and flow’. We all go through periods of highs and lows. You may be going through a low right now but it won’t last. Don’t fight it, just roll with it until it passes…and keep writing.

    (And btw, I loved the Hemingway quote.)

    1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts about my blog. I am so happy to hear you enjoy my blog posts, and I appreciate your advice tremendously! I will definitely keep writing, and Hemingway quotes help.
      ~SAT

  8. Have you read (or seen as it’s a play) ‘Six Characters In Search of an Author’ by Luigi Pirandello? It gives an interesting perspective on this subject.

  9. Shannon, not only was your post very moving, and so beautifully expressed, so too were many of the responses from others. Not sure what else to say other than I am a 70-year-Brit living in Oregon who has just finished the draft of his first book, a nonfiction one. As I edit it, I’m fighting my reaction that it is 120,000 words of self-indulgent rubbish!

  10. Life is funny….. I have never ever felt lonely never! I enjoy my own company, my thoughts, doing, seeing, and experiencing things unencumbered by others. Traveled the world over 8 years..by myself, met people …left people.. and most of my art is a product of my aloneness. I have never understood the word lonely……. that is so strange.. since most people seem to use the word frequently…why do I never feel lonely when I am crating art? hmmmmmmmm?

  11. A few thoughts I hope you find helpful. My first attempt to write something of any length was a screenplay. Knowing the odds were against me even moreso than in publishing and not sure I could even finish it, I realized I needed to do it…for me. I think of writing as going on a safari: you might not bag anything, but you (should) mostly do it for the journey. Enjoy riding on the elephant’s back and the view. Enjoy the journey.

    I just reminded myself of a monologue I learned as an actor. “The Elephant Valentine” by Marsha Norman. Part of a bigger work, called “Oz” – I think. You should find and read it.

    I also hear The Joker in my mind asking, “Why so serious?” Enjoy the journey.

    Next point, building off of the monologue: I could write it down here, but it would hog too much space. The real plus for you is to GET OUT and find it. One piece of depression – which I have – is to avoid descending too far into your own naval. Stop self-stimulating through writing and let the world refresh you with new information. Whether reading an article or absorbing some sun, GET OUT! It’s OK not to write today. Even Winston Churchill took daily naps at the height of WWII. You can take a break from writing without suffering catastrophic consequences. 🙂

    Maybe you’ve heard of Desiderata? Supposedly a wise writing from a monk centuries ago. My favorite line: “Many a fear is born of loneliness and fatigue.” So, have you slept? Eaten? Interacted with friends or family? Self-maintenance is crucial. These were my touch points especially in grad school, which was brutal sometimes.

    I hope this helps. You have a lot of followers and people who obviously care. Take pride and have happiness in that. Those are real accomplishments!

  12. I appreciate you opening up and baring your writer’s depression. Often that is agonizing for a writer to come to terms with. Your characters are indestructible; that’s the beauty of writing. I think that no matter how often they go unrecognized by publishers, they are still alive and thriving in our own minds and hearts.

  13. Fabulous post! Great prose! I must say that most all writers go through this and sometimes often.. I’m not sure if it is writer’s depression or the brain just needs a break. I find that if I balance my writing with other things away from pen at hand, I am much happier! As a writer, it is easy to get obsessed with a project and forget all else. I know I do. A daily walk can work wonders. Anyway. Thanks for the heartfelt read for I know I am not alone!

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