Computers are useful for many things, including keeping people company. Of course, this is only true to a point.
Social media is a great way to stay connected to friends and relatives no matter where they live on a regular basis. It’s also a good way to make new friends out of total strangers, based on common interests, at least initially.
For writers, the Internet can serve as both a source of inspiration and a distraction from their work. It’s especially seductive when you’re feeling totally alone in the world, even though the Web is teeming with news, updates, photos, and posts from millions of people around the world.
Speaking subjectively, I cherish my solitude. Many writers share that appreciation of being alone with one’s own thoughts and words for hours and even days at a time.
But others balk at the necessary discipline writing requires when it comes to sitting down at your computer and essentially blocking out everyone and everything else for extended periods of time.
Here are a few ways to soothe your lonesome heart, oh weary solo traveler:
Play music – whenever my wife and I leave the house, we always leave the jazz station on for our cats, simply to keep them some ambient company. (For all we know, they’re dancing to it and throwing a party, but if so, as long as they don’t trash the place, good or them). Music is also a source of comfort for us humans. You have to be careful you aren’t so caught up in the tunes you chose that you wind up not getting anything done. But if the melodies and lyrics complement the mood of your piece while at the same time negating that sinking sense of solitary confinement, even if it is voluntary, then by all means, pump up the volume.
Adopt a pet – okay, I know this is what all of your well meaning friends say when you complain your life is romantically destitute, but as far as writing goes, having a soft, furry (or scaly, whatever) companion on your lap or by your side (depending on its species and size) can provide more than enough sentient salve for your suffering soul. Yes, that sounds melodramatic, but we writers know how hopelessly morbid we can get staring at a blank computer screen for hours at a time…
Stick to a schedule – as with any other occupation, writing has its benefits and its drawbacks, whether mental, physical or (primarily) financial. If you find being alone with yourself to be a particularly difficult task, limit the time you set aside to write. But if you do this, be very strict about your level of output. When it comes to writing, it’s not the thought that counts, unless that thought has been duly recorded for posterity.
In Part Two I’ll offer some empathetic suggestions for spouses, friends, relatives and others that aren’t writers themselves, but have to live with one…