Humans are hardwired for connection and it’s how we thrive – so how do we balance that very basic need for community with the lone wolf nature of our writing lives?
For one thing, we can reach out to others, including our fellow authors who understand exactly what we are going through, good and bad! I’ve just created a Facebook group called The Secret Library which you can join to get support from me and also meet like-minded scribblers! Even if you are a bookish introvert like I am, it’s a lovely way to get involved with your creative kinfolk and to feel part of a community, without leaving your home!
Another thing you can do is use your writing passion to get in touch with others. I’ve been lucky enough to receive wonderful cards and letters lately from friends all over the world, so I know exactly how great it feels to be reached out to in words and real handwriting in this age of texts and emails. (It’s also a heartwarming practice in our currently sometimes scary world!)
One option then is to send a handwritten postcard, card or letter to someone you care about. It could be as simple as saying, ‘Thinking of you,’ (after all, we’re all busy!), or a fuller account of what’s been going on for you. This way, you will be reaching beyond the solitary bubble of literary creation to touch others and this will not only warm your cockles, but it’ll also help you feel more grounded, even if the tides of your writing are taking you off into other worlds.
If you want a more literary task though, you can write something for or about someone or something – it could be a partner, friend or child or even a pet or inanimate object – so long as it’s a way of saying thank you and connecting to your love for them or it.
Pablo Neruda, the amazing Chilean poet and Nobel Prize winner, wrote odes to all kinds of things, but here’s one concerning some socks he was given (I wonder if he got them for Christmas!).
ODE TO MY SOCKS
Maru Mori brought me
a pair of socks
which she knitted herself
with her sheepherder’s hands,
two socks as soft as rabbits.
I slipped my feet into them
as if they were two cases
knitted with threads of twilight and goatskin,
my feet were two fish made of wool,
two long sharks
sea blue, shot through
by one golden thread,
two immense blackbirds,
my feet were honored in this way
by these heavenly socks.
They were so handsome for the first time
my feet seemed to me unacceptable
like two decrepit firemen,
firemen unworthy of that woven fire,
of those glowing socks.
Nevertheless, I resisted the sharp temptation
to save them somewhere as schoolboys
as learned men collect
I resisted the mad impulse to put them
in a golden cage and each day give them
birdseed and pieces of pink melon.
Like explorers in the jungle
who hand over the very rare green deer
to the spit and eat it with remorse,
I stretched out my feet and pulled on
the magnificent socks and then my shoes.
The moral of my ode is this:
beauty is twice beauty
and what is good is doubly good
when it is a matter of two socks
made of wool in winter.
How about we write an ode to something or someone we love, taking Neruda’s piece as inspiration?
Or, if we’re a fiction writer, what if we write some prose about something or someone special, or we imagine them as our reader and address them in our fiction? (We could even use the second person, ‘you’).
The important thing isn’t to create high art necessarily, but to recognise that, even as we may remain in the solitude of our writing ‘cave’, we are still connected to the world at large – and, by having an increased sense of the way we are anchored by love, our writing mojo has less chance to be worn down by loneliness.
The key thing is to remember that, even when you’re typing away at your desk, you are not alone – there are millions of us writers doing the same thing right now and millions more throughout history who’ve gone through the same creative journey …
You are unique and no one has written exactly like you in the whole of time, but you are also part of what Mary Oliver calls, ‘the family of things’ – never lose touch with that and your mojo will stay strong!
If you would like to feel more supported in your writing life, coaching can be really helpful, as I know from experience! Check out my ‘Get Your Writing Mojo Back’ sessions and feel more connected to both your creativity and yourself!