Solitude: Its Benefits and Downsides

I like solitude.

That’s a good thing, by the way. If I couldn’t stand being alone, I doubt I could get any writing done. Solitude is a necessity for most writers, especially if you intend to be a fulltime professional writer like I do. If you love being around other people all the time, you probably shouldn’t pursue writing as a career.

Solitude has many benefits. In solitude, you can explore yourself deeply, brush off the filters that other people and the media place around us, and master new skills without interruption. For me in particular, I’ve found that I need solitude in order to give my story ideas the attention they deserve before I put them down on paper.

Having said that, in my experience I’ve found that too much solitude can sometimes give me a distorted view of the world. Solitude can give you clarity, but if you do not go out into the world to test your views and interact with others, it is far too easy for this clarity to turn into opaqueness.

For example, whenever I hear bad news, I tend to become unhappy. That doesn’t make me very different from most people, I suppose, but it can be worse for me because I live in my head so often. I can take this bad news and focus on it to the exclusion of everything else, even if it’s not an issue that immediately or directly affects me.

When I catch myself doing that, that’s when I know that I need to interact with other people. Preferably people who can crack a joke or tell a funny story, people who can distract me from the problem or help me put it in perspective. While entertainment can sometimes do the trick, I’ve found that lighthearted people are generally a better antidote for sadness than lighthearted entertainment.

Solitude is helpful and necessary; however, it is useful to remain aware of its possible dangers and to counteract them with socializing so you can fully embrace solitude’s precious gifts.

-Tim

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