Author’s Journey: How to Combat Lonely Writer’s Syndrome


Author’s Journey: How to Combat Lonely Writer’s Syndrome

Anyone that works remote, especially alone in home office, may experience feelings of isolation. While there’s plenty to do, and maybe you have a pet, kids, and several calls or virtual meetings, you’re still pretty much alone. Isolated. Possibly longing for adult conversation and the vibration and headiness of a bustling team atmosphere.

While there are those who thrive in isolation, and that extends to some of the most famous authors we know, others feel lonely. Loneliness can spike anxiety, lethargy, distraction, and yes, depression. That’s why it’s important to recognize loneliness early on and devise a plan to combat it.

So, for those lonely writers out there, who are grateful to be working from home on your preferred schedule and perhaps in your pajamas, know this—you’re not alone. Nor are you alone in trying to figure out how not to feel lonely while you are, in truth, all alone.

To help you combat lonely writer’s syndrome and stay healthy, supported, and motivated, I turn to my author friends and experts for their advice. Here’s what they recommend:

“Over the years, I’ve been in probably a half-dozen writers’ workshops and have even kept in touch with some of the participants—for a while. Then last March, immersed in trying to draw publicity for Novel #2 and revising (again) Novel #3, I realized that what I needed wasn’t another workshop. It was other writers to talk to. I needed people who could share social media advice, and also share the despair of wondering why we keep pursuing our ridiculous dream. Since none of my everyday friends are writers, I had to form my own village: I reached out to 12 novelists and memoirists whom I’d met here and there through conferences or community projects or our kids, scattered from New York to Virginia to Arkansas to Texas to California, at different stages of our writing, but all of us serious, and none of us famous. I wasn’t sure this little project would survive, especially after four members dropped out, yet here we are, a year later, talking once a month via Zoom—because we need each other.” ~ Fran Hawthorne, award-winning novelist and nonfiction writer, author of I Meant to Tell You and more.

“The most miraculous cure I’ve found for Lonely Writer’s Syndrome was joining an online sprint group. We meet on Zoom every day at a set time and simply write for twelve minutes. That’s it: We sign in, say hello to one another, then someone sets a timer, and we write. At the end of those twelve minutes, we say goodbye. Not only is this a great way to avoid feeling isolated on my writing journey, but it’s an excellent source of accountability. Best of all, it would be incredibly easy to set this up with any group of people! Just grab some friends and pick a time!” ~ J.S. Puller, author of Captain Superlative and The Lost Things Club.

“For me, writing is about connection and capturing raw emotion, lessons, or experiences in literary form. Because of this, I have found ways to stay connected even while writing in a quiet, solitary setting. First, I have all my rescue animals there to “assist” me, although they often end up distracting me in the best possible way! I suppose a more accurate statement would be that my rescue pets are there to inspire me. Second, as a licensed social worker and lifelong humanitarian, I can’t help but partner with local nonprofits for each novel I write. I try to choose charitable organizations aligned with the theme of my novel, but sometimes I blur the lines a bit and simply select an organization I’ve worked with frequently in the previous weeks, months, or years. I set aside a portion of author royalties for the nonprofit, which makes writing feel like a community effort and enhances my connection to others. My newly released children’s book, I Love You Even If You’re Stinky, features a famous rescue kitten with admirable resilience and optimism. Because of this, I’m donating 100% of author royalties from this book to Rags to Riches Animal Rescue, Inc.” ~ Lisa Wilkes, author, and activist.

I started my writing journey around 2005 just before I turned 30 years old, when social media was taking its first baby steps, and online courses were many moons away! I do recall however the joy of networking with other writers via an online chat room or forum as it was known, where I could chat with other wannabe writers and published authors about our shared passion. I was in my element. I didn’t know any published authors in real life, so to be able to connect in this way was hugely inspirational to me. Writing is a solitary business in many ways, so I also like to communicate with those who take my writing course by offering access to a private Facebook page where they can connect with me directly. So you’re never alone! And for those who want an extra personal touch, I also offer one to one and small group ‘live’ coaching sessions for a select few each year.” ~ Emma Heatherington is the international bestselling author of fifteen novels including The Legacy of Lucy Harte (HarperCollins) and This Christmas (Penguin Random House) which was a UK e-book number one bestseller, and an Irish Times Top 10 hit.

“I like to play music to keep me from feeling alone. Quite frankly, being alone doesn’t bother me; I accomplish more in my writing when I’m alone. When you’re writing, you need to focus on your subject. Certain scenarios should have no distractions. However, when writing a lovemaking/spicy sex scene, one may need inspiration from a partner. Other people’s success stories don’t overwhelm me–they motivate me to achieve my own success. That said, to build my own support group, I appeal to my closest family members and friends for their support in whatever way I need at a given time.” ~Patricia D’Arcy Laughlin, author of Sacrifices For Kingdoms.

“I have found an incredibly supportive group of women writers from all around the world called The International Women’s Writing Guild. With in-person and online workshops, open mics, and other wonderful events, they provide insightful, informative, and supportive programs for women writers at all stages and levels. Numerous women have grown exponentially and succeeded beyond their own expectations by being a part of this wonderful tribe. It is truly a unique and magical experience that has been going strong for many decades. I’ve been a member for almost 23 years and without the IWWG, I would not have been able to achieve my dream of publishing an award winning book while being surrounded by so many talented and generous women.” ~ Deborah L. Staunton, award winning author of Untethered and Owls Can’t Sing.

“When I’m writing during closed-door seasons, I either have instrumental music or the TV playing in the background with the sound low. In summer, with the door and windows are open, I’m listening to the birds. From time to time, I’ll take writing to a café or fast-food restaurant and edit for an hour or two, where I can more easily start a big job, then finish it at home.

A year ago, I formed a Zoom group of about 10 writers I’ve met, having known most of them for years, where daily we meet for a three-hour write-in. We meet, chat and report for about 5 minutes; then mute and turn off our screens; and, write for an hour, meeting on the hour. We repeat the process, meeting a last time at the end of the three hours.” ~ Dr. Diana Stout, award-winning writer, and author of Finding Your Fire & Keeping It Hot.

Always keep in mind, we’re individuals with subjective feelings and experiences.

While some of these suggestions may not work for you, there are plenty of ideas out there. I welcome you to contribute your thoughts, advice, and commentary below. But remember, you’re now part of a wonderful, uplifting community called “Books Uplift.”

Your voice is welcome here anytime. 

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