In a Sometimes Lonely Career, Indie Authors Find Creative Ways to Connect
As writers, our path is primarily a solo endeavor. Some authors have an easier time combating loneliness, but others find it difficult to get past the isolation hump. When the need for companionship strikes, online writing sprints and smaller in-person writing retreats can be a great alternative to larger conferences that may be overwhelming for creatives.
Many authors identify as introverts and have already established a plethora of coping mechanisms in order to keep loneliness at bay. It’s not a bad thing—an essay by Jacob Friedman, published in the University of Maryland’s Interpolations, notes the often-overlooked superpower an introvert might bring to a project. The theory is that introverts are predisposed to be comfortable alone, and in this post-COVID world, binge-watching a favorite TV show with a four-legged companion, video-chatting with friends, or a walk in the park may be plenty of external stimulation for such people.
Even so, our extroverted colleagues may find the task much more difficult. And if you are such a writer, you may benefit from some helpful tips and tricks to combat the loneliness monster.
At last year’s 20Books Vegas conference, several authors offered examples of how they strategize against loneliness in their daily lives. Elaine Bateman, Urban Fantasy author, says Zoom sprints with other authors can be an easy loneliness combatant, and when that doesn’t work, she says writing at a local café can be just the trick to cure her doldrums.
Nonfiction author Alycea Snyder has a more unorthodox way of bonding with fellow authors. She says she and several local writers hold quarterly in-person “burning parties” where they burn rejection letters, abandoned manuscripts, and other things that didn’t work for them. The group considers it a celebration of “getting it done,” moving past what didn’t work and onto what does.
Jim Slater, a Historical Fiction writer, reports his characters keep him company, along with his wife, Joanie, and their rescue pup, Delila. Slater’s story isn’t unique. Several writers noted spouses or significant others as their source of relief from the dark cloud of isolation those in our career may face.
Whether you turn to fur babies, social media, online sprints, in-person meet-ups, or family and friends, one thing is certain: whether introverted or extroverted, all humans need some type of contact and interaction. Writers are no different, and our mental and emotional health must be a focus for our own well-being.