“Writing, at its best, is a lonely life.” – Ernest Hemingway
Have you noticed how other people seem to achieve so much more than you feel you possibly ever could?
Okay, that sentence sounds very jumbled, but what I’m asking is this: Have you ever felt like a loser who can’t get anything done?
Yeah . . . me too.
I wonder if it’s us or if it’s the world we live in. The idea of extreme productivity seems to be growing faster than a new woke movement . . . and that’s saying something, am I right?
Ahem. Let me move on from that real quick . . . more to the point: being busy is super popular.
Everyone is talking about how busy they are. And if you are not unrealistically overshadowing their busyness, you’re not in the “in” of this century and therefore you’re a loser. It’s almost like we’re in a race to get things done.
Ask a novelist!
Many of us are watching our peers dish out book after book while we’re still wondering if the first line in that random scene (that was already deleted) even made sense. Okay, so that’s an exaggeration, but as a writer I need to add some flair. But back to the point . . .
There’s a hype that seems to reward writers for pumping books out without taking a second to breathe. But what are they doing to be so much more productive than the rest of us? And should I want to do it as well? Or is it an unrealistic expectation, given we all lead different lives with different responsibilities?
I think it doesn’t matter. We should all do what we can according to our lifestyles. What that brings, however, is a little solitude. And I strongly encourage it.
“The mind is sharper and keener in seclusion and uninterrupted solitude. Originality thrives in seclusion free of outside influences beating upon us to cripple the creative mind. Be alone — that is the secret of invention: be alone, that is when ideas are born.” – Nikola Tesla
Most writers crave alone time anyway, so that shouldn’t be a problem. If, on the other hand, you don’t like your own company . . . then you have a whole other issue that I can’t help with. What I can say is your solitude has to be your choice and it’s important to remember that:
Your own company can bring you the clarity you need.
- It’s okay to ignore your emails and social media for a few hours.
- It’s okay to be alone. It doesn’t have to mean the same as being bored or lonely.
- It’s okay to take some time away from your family and friends to write. I mean, make sure you do spend some quality time with them, it just doesn’t have to be every single minute you’re awake.
- It’s okay to just sit and think or take a walk to think only about your book.
- It’s okay to simply block out some time every day to be alone and do absolutely nothing.
Sadly, solitude is often confused with being lonely, so it tends to be undervalued and frowned upon. People are under the belief that any time spent alone is wasted. In truth, though, it can help us make a deeper connection to our creativity.
I think as a writer, we’re constantly seeking to discover ourselves and looking for personal significance in the universe we create. What does it truly mean to us? And no, we can’t get to our work if we don’t go out and explore the world or interact with others. That’s crucial, and no one will argue. I’m just making a case for those of us who would like to schedule time alone to do meaningful work without being judged. How else are we supposed to find our deepest insights?
“One can be instructed in society; one is inspired only in solitude.” ‑ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Some of the most successful people throughout history were thinking loners. (That rhymes with stinking loners, but that’s neither here nor there.) Without their solitude, people like Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci, and Ernest Hemingway—to name a few—probably wouldn’t have achieved the extraordinary level of success they did. Basically, I think solitude can bring out your inner genius (this is just an opinion, though, so don’t sue me if it doesn’t work lol).
Ways to be productive.
As far as finding ways to be productive, I won’t take up your time and give you a list on how to get things done. You know how to do it. And you know best because only you lead your life and can understand the obstacles you face.
In the end, I think it’s important to find what works for you because:
There will never be a “one size fits all” solution.
So go ahead and embrace your own company, fight for the time you need for yourself, and don’t compare your level of productivity with anyone else’s. Remember it’s not about who’s the busiest or who’s the biggest overachiever. Absolutely, go ahead and aim for a lot, but don’t become “that person.”
Being productive is more about getting the right things done than it is about getting more things done.