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Solitude or Isolation?
Published: 12/2/2011 11:46:41 AM

 

This morning I woke up after my husband left for school, ate breakfast while checking email and Facebook, showered, and then sat at my desk to work for a couple hours. Then it was time for lunch, followed by more work, followed by sending a few emails regarding other freelance job opportunities. At that time, feeling somewhat under the weather, I lay down to read for a bit, then closed my eyes for a few minutes. It's now 3:30 and time to turn my attention to writing, both blog writing and novel writing. My husband is still at school, but should be home soon. I have yet to see or speak to another person, although I have heard my upstairs neighbor walking around. Tonight, I'll stay home while my husband goes to a meeting of some sort, do some more reading or maybe some TV watching, and have dinner ready when he gets home. I'll probably make it to bedtime without seeing or speaking to anyone but my husband.

This is a fairly typical pattern of how I spend most weekdays. I do have commitments a couple nights each week that get me out of the house, and my weekends are generally fairly social, but for the most part, I spend most of my time alone. Being an introvert, I don't mind it. Most of the time I really like it. In all the years I spent working in offices, I daydreamed about a time when I could work from home, doing the work I always daydreamed about doing: writing. Now that the daydream is reality, I love it.

But after doing this for a year, I see some of the dangers of such a lifestyle. It's so easy to turn inward and isolate myself, and my introvert tendencies definitely don't help with that. I want my writing to be full of life, to connect with others and be a light in their lives, but if all I see is myself--if all I know is myself and my little world--my writing becomes dull and, well, all about me.

This isolation is damaging to more than just my writing life; it hurts my faith life as well. It becomes so easy for me to shut myself off from the world around me, to shelter myself from the evil and pain in the world by surrounding myself with my own words, or with only Christian friends. And my life becomes all about me. But that's not how we are called to live as Christians, is it? Christian community and fellowship is certainly important and necessary, as is time alone to engage in personal study and growth in Christ, but we're also supposed to reach out to those who don't know Christ. Our lives are supposed to be about Him and about others, not about ourselves.

I don't know that I have a solution to this problem of isolation. On the one hand, isolation is necessary to the creative act. Or perhaps I should say, solitude is necessary. Isolation has a rather negative connotation, and it is not necessary. Isolation is damaging. So much of writing is internal, which makes solitude helpful and needful. But writers, and Christian writers especially, also need to take time to look outward and to live outwardly, as well. In my last post, I quoted author Sara Zarr, and that quote seems to work here too: "I want to delight in participating in the creation of life off of the page."

In an effort to get outside of myself and to connect with others, I suppose one practical thing I could try is to move my writing space from the quietness of my home office to the more lively atmosphere of a coffee shop or cafe. Those seem to be the sort of places that draw writers, and there are several in my neighborhood that would give me the chance to connect with not just other people, but other people in my community. Perhaps I'll make this my experiment for the next month, to get out of my house to write one or two times a week. And if I state it here, perhaps you readers can help hold me accountable! What will you do this month to engage in your community and keep from isolating yourself?


Sherrah Behrens

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