Ganging up on Isolation


In my last post, I talked about isolation as one of the four challenges we face as writers.  Hopefully I’ve convinced you that even introverted writer-types need the occasional human contact for our well-being—especially contact with other writers.

And no, four legged furry friends don’t count!

But how do you find writerly humans to contact? Step #1 is to step outside your comfort zone and start looking. Here are some possible places to connect:

SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) offers a myriad of resources for connecting writers.

Classes: check out your local Continuing Education program for a writing class that interests you. In addition to learning something, you’ll get to know other local writers—this is a great place to recruit critique group members.

Online Resources such as news groups, listserves, blogs, and Twitter provide a spot for writers to touch base with one another. You’re not necessarily going to manage full-length conversations via blog comments or Twitter chat, but it’s a great place to connect for encouragement, accountability, and reality checks. Here are a few of my favorites:

Challenge #2: Isolation


Isolation is another one of those big challenges we face as writers. Let’s face it: most of us work alone, avoid the telephone, and spend more time with our favorite pens than our favorite people. With a large number of introverts in the writing community, many of us cultivate alone time. We thrive on it.


Even the most introverted of us all still needs occasional contact with other people—especially with other writers. Other writers can provide us with:

  • Support and encouragement: Every now and then, everyone needs to hear that they’re doing a good job. And no, your cat can’t actually provide the needed reassurance.
  • Normalization: things don’t look so bad when you realize you’re not the only one receiving six rejections for the same book on the same day…from the same publisher. It happens to everyone.
  • Networking: there’s a reason people network. Friends and colleagues help us to connect with future writing partners, business associates, and editors. It’s not about using people (which is why I disliked the term networking for a long time); networking is about helping people make beneficial connections.
  • Shop Talk: Whether you’re looking for someone to vent with about the current state of the publishing industry or a critique partner or someone who knows a bit more about social media than you do—talking shop is a great way to hone your ideas and knowledge, and collect info from colleagues.
  • Accountability/Motivation: There’s nothing like a writing buddy to help you make that word count goal, finish revising that project, or send out the novel you want to protect from the big, bad world. Accountability partners come in all styles, from Boot-Camp Billie to Sweets and Sympathy Sylvia. Find someone and team up with them!

People need other people—in small doses, perhaps, but even introverted writer-types need to rub elbows with others traveling the same road.

Maybe you know that—and don’t know where to go from there. More on tackling isolation in my next post….

:) Cheryl

The week’s Tweets on how to bypass roadblocks and WRITE THE STORY!

WTS=Write the Story! Why? Because it’s fun–rewarding–excruciating–fulfilling–and ultimately cheaper than therapy :) Happy writing!


WTS 64: Spend a day writing down everything you say/hear in conversation for inspiration. Notice: how is written dialog different?

WTS 65: Sometimes the subconscious needs to work without interruption. Occupy the conscious mind w/meditative task like stirring soup…

…crocheting, walking, ironing, yoga…experiment!

Kitty Bucholtz (Routines for Writers) looks back on a month-o-author interviews & finding a routine that works for YOU

Cultivate daydreams as a source of innovation & motivation

Happiness: just finished @LaurenMyracle‘s Peace, Love, Bby Ducks; stripey socks via; and a novel to rewrite….

Looking for a low-key, children’s writer-focused #NaNoWriMo alternative? Check out Nancy Sander’s Book-in-a-Month Club

WTS 66: Give your inspiration a target. Pick a story problem and start looking for ideas–you’ll be surprised what you notice!

More on paying attention to find inspiration at Freelance Switch:

There is a great deal of difference between an eager man who wants to read a book and the tired man who wants a book to read -(GK Chesterton)

WTS 66: Make small goals when you’re "too busy to write". Baby steps move you forward, if only by eliminating what doesn’t work.

Every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward.

(Thomas Edison)

Depression Prevention

CherylGreen In the past few years, an entire new field of psychology has sprung up known as Positive Psychology. Positive Psychology “is the scientific study of the strengths and virtues that enable individuals and communities to thrive”. It focuses on what’s right with people instead of what’s wrong. Positive psychology research has identified numerous practices that can help make people more emotionally resilient:

  1. Exercise: Research shows that aerobic exercise (3 times a week for 30 minutes) has the same affect on depressive symptoms as antidepressants. In addition, regular exercise can reduce anxiety by 20%
  2. Be thankful—keep a gratitude journal. Science backs it up: research at Kent State University found that regularly writing expressions of gratitude improved happiness.
  3. Meditation: Dr. Marsha Lucas writes and blogs about how meditation actually “rewires” the brain to improve relationships and develop emotional resiliency. Recent research also shows that meditation can thicken an area of the brain involved in pain sensation—decreasing pain sensitivity.
  4. Apply chocolate (of course)—and if anyone gives you a hard time, point them to research on chocolate’s benefits here, here, and here.


Additional Resources

  1. The University of Pennsylvania’s Positive Psychology Center’s website, Authentic Happiness, offers questionnaires to measure depression symptoms and to assess your current happiness, overall happiness, and enduring happiness.
  2. Signal Patterns offers numerous web- and mobile-based applications for inserting positive psychology practices into your life, including my favorite, the Live Happy application for iPhone.
  3. On The Happiness Project website, author Gretchen Rubin explores what does and does not contribute to happiness. She also offers The Happiness Project Toolbox to help readers create their own Happiness Project.
  4. Numerous free how-to-medicate podcasts are available through iTunes, such as Lisa Dale Miller’s Mindfulness of Breath Meditation for Beginners. Dr. Lucas also offers a free meditation download on her website.

    The bonus to many of these activities is that they boost creativity as well as fending off depression. I’m much more likely to take up a positive habit than to kick a bad habit, and the evolving field of positive psych helps us do just that.

    What positive habit can you add to your life?

    :) Cheryl