I have a confession. I like being alone.
Oh, I like socializing, too, but not to the extent a lot of people seem to. If I have no one to visit and nowhere to go on a weekend, I’m good with that. There have been times when I wondered if my desire for solitude was a bad thing. I just came across this article assuring me that it’s okay to spend time without anyone else around.
My mother was a nurse, with the accompanying crazy hours. When she wasn’t working she was constantly doing something, going somewhere, visiting someone. Even during her chemotherapy, when the first day after treatment was still a good day, she’d plan hours of errands to get done. I suppose she wanted to take advantage of the good day before the bad one, the one where she could barely function because of her reaction to the chemo drugs. I remember talking to her on the phone, listening to her list of “things to do”. I got worn out just thinking about them. I tried to encourage her to take it easy. LIke she ever listened to me…
It amazes me when I meet people who need to socialize to “recharge”. The concept is foreign to me. Part of me feels guilty at needing time alone, because my mother never seemed to. Don’t get me wrong; I do like spending time with family and friends, but not a lot of time (a lot of time being more than a couple of days). Even with my own family, I still enforce an hour of “quiet time” on weekends and holidays: an hour when the kids are either in their rooms or outside for an hour. This has been the rule since they were old enough to only need one nap a day (For reference, my children are 16 and 14 yrs old).
As for writing, time alone is mandatory, especially when I’m trying to write a first draft or revise. I can only get so far away from the buzz of activity in the house–I won’t get my own office until the kids leave for college. Maybe. My husband keeps threatening to build me a Rapunzel tower. I can’t wait, but by that time I’ll probably be too old to climb the stairs! When discussing writing spaces, writing articles and books suggest everything from writing at the library to finding a seat at a Starbucks to getting a hotel room for a weekend.
There’s something, though, about the comfort of being at home, so I’m disinclined to head somewhere else for the sole purpose of writing unless I’m also attending a writing conference or a reunion with my Writing Sisters. As long as the television is off, there is no teenage bickering, no loud music, and nothing else is demanding attention “right now” (dust and weeds can wait for an hour or two), I can hear my muse.
Do you need quiet to write? Or can you still focus if you are somewhere it isn’t quiet and there’s a lot of other things going on? Can you write at a Starbucks, with patrons constantly moving around? Or at a hotel, where the rooms are less than inspiring? How about at a park? Of all the other locations I could go to for the purpose of writing, a state or national park is probably the one I’d take advantage of more than any other. Now, if I could just read my computer screen outdoors and keep the bugs (mosquitoes, gnats, flies, etc) away, I’d be set.
Where do you go to write when you feel the need to just settle and focus? Where would you go to do your writing if you could go anywhere in the world? Okay, given that option, I’d vote for a log cabin deep in the forests of the Pacific Northwest (Minnesota or Wisconsin will work, too), where the air smells of the green trees, the loamy earth, and either the sea or a creek. I’d have a connection to the Internet (for research and backing up my writing), a meandering path to a “thinking chair” that overlooks a waterfall for those times I need to move around or just clear my mind, an easy drive so I wouldn’t have an excuse not to go there, and a nice fireplace for those chilly nights.
Don’t sell “mental” vacations short. In lieu of a real writing retreat, fifteen minutes of meditation about your dream writing spot may be just enough to settle your mind and jump-start the creative energy. Bring your muse along and let the words flow.