Friday, 1 July 2011

Do we want to be alone?

I've always believed that one of the characteristics helpful for being a writer is the ability to enjoy your own company. After all, writing is usually a solitary occupation (I know there are people who co-write books, but personally I think I'd find that difficult!). I wouldn't go so far as to say it's absolutely necessary to be on your own in order to write; I wrote plenty of stories, and chapters of novels, years ago while the family were buzzing around the house. And I'm sure I'm not the only one who has sometimes needed so desperately to carry on with something I've been writing while it's going well, that I've sat working on my laptop even while the TV is on, pretending to spend a bit of time with Himself but obviously ignoring both TV and husband! I've written bits of stories in notebooks on crowded noisy trains and buses, and I've grabbed half-hour lunch breaks when I was at work, to continue with a chapter of a novel on my work computer while my colleagues chatted around me. Yes, it can be done - but I think most of us would agree it's easier to write in glorious solitude.

So is the solitude always glorious? The reason I ask is that this weekend, starting today, Himself isn't going to be around at all. Don't tell him, but I've been quite looking forward to three days of uninterrupted 'ME' time, to press on with editing and re-submitting some short stories, and finally getting down to the next novel. In fact, I actually get quite a lot of time on my own since I've been retired, as Himself has his own hobbies so we give each other a lot of space. Everyone's different, but although we enjoy each other's company, neither of us are the sort of people who want to spend our retirement living in each other's pockets, doing everything together. So I can rarely say that I haven't got time for my writing, or that it interferes with anyone or anything else.

And here's the funny thing. We're such contradictory creatures, aren't we! I think most writers understand Sod's Law of Procrastination. Because I'm sitting here today with limitless time available, and the idea in my head that I'm going to write several thousand words at the very least, what am I doing? Well, apart from writing this blog post and dealing with e-mails, I've been shopping on Amazon, checking my website stats, downloading some photos, reading various forums, have been for a walk, made another cup of tea (!) ... and oh look, it's nearly lunchtime!

When I was a working mum trying to fit in a bit of writing around everything else, I just Got On With It! So is all this solitude really the best thing for a writer after all? Is it too much of a good thing? Do I need someone around me, nagging me for things and interrupting me all the time just so that I can say 'No! I need to get on with this writing!' and actually do it?!

Well, anyway. I'm just off to have a quick look at Facebook and then ... maybe after lunch ... I really will start something! Have a nice weekend everyone.


  1. I'm exactly like that. When the kids were around, I'd fit in the writing wherever I could. Now, well...I'm posting this, when I should be writing. I'm sure it's all a matter of the more you have to do, the more you actually achieve.

    Oh dear.

  2. Same here - I wrote much more when I was running round after kids. What is they say? If you want something done, ask a busy person!
    Hope you have a good Me Weekend :-)

  3. Oh no not another writer wasting time on the internet! Frances and I have been telling each other off for time wasting, maybe we should start some sort of time wasting instead of writing club.

    Now you just get on with that new novel, Olivia, anotherwise the bestseller will never get written :-)

  4. I'm glad I'm not the only one! Thanks Frances and Teresa! And Jarmara, I'm pleased to report that after lunch I did settle down and wrote a chapter. But I think if we did start a 'time wasting instead of writing club' there would be too many members!

  5. You think you've got distractions? The Tour de France started yesterday which means 6 hours of commentary a day for the next three weeks. Then there's the cricket. I might get some writing done in September.

  6. Coming late to this one, but completely agree with Frances: the more you have to do, the more you achieve. I read an interview with a top agent recently who said writers always do their best work before they've given up the day job! Not sure about that, but I can see how it might be true! I reckon stuff just stretches to fit the time available, so when you've supposedly got acres of time, you don't get any more done. x

  7. Hi Lydia. Oh no - I hope it's not true about writers' best work being before they've given up the day job ... there's no hope for me, then! But yes, I can see how it happens. I panicked when I first retired from the day job ('will I ever earn another penny from anywhere??') and wrote the next book much too fast, resulting in huge re-writes and lots of edits. And oh dear, I must admit I don't get up early in the morning any more so it's no wonder the days go faster!