Step 1: delete your Tinder profile.
Just kidding. That’s not the kind of “alone” I’m talking about. Or is it…?
No, for real, what I mean is how to spend time alone, especially if you’re looking to write more, read more, or just do more of the things you enjoy. Sometimes, you just need to get alone, not just for your writing but for yourself.
This is easier for some people than it is for others. Depends on your personality. Though we all need some amount of social interaction, some people enjoy being alone and have no problems separating themselves from a social setting. Others always want to be around people and go stir crazy when they’re alone. Ah yes, the classic introvert/extrovert duality. How quaint. But not without validity.
Then there’s your living situation to consider. Someone like me, a twenty-something who works from home while her fiancé is at a physical job all day, has a much easier time getting alone than, say, a mother of three, or a guy who works all day while his fiancée sits at home on her computer. Ah, you see what I did there? It’s called cleverfulness.
But fear not–I’m not suggesting you need to lock yourself away all the time. Doesn’t really make sense anyhow. What does make sense, however, is carving out some time–half an hour, an hour, whatever–to be alone. And in the spirit of these totally original top 5 posts, here are 5 tips on how to do just that.
1. schedule the time
Whether it’s early morning, lunch break, or the witching hour, schedule a time that works with your routine. I know that a lot of writers get up early in the morning and write before their day jobs and such, and that’s great, but of course it’s not the only way to do things. Find the time(s) that are optimal for you and then set reminders for yourself if necessary–via phone or good ol’ fashioned planner.
2. have a place (or places) to go
I’ve heard writers say that you should have a designated space for writing so you can get in the right headspace every time. That’s a great idea, but not everyone’s made like that. Me, I have to move around sometimes. As previously implied, usually I’m potato-ing on the living room couch. But if I’m feeling uninspired, I’ll go to the library or a coffee shop, or move outside to the porch (if it’s not too hot/cold… today was a hard no). The change in scenery can really wipe you clean as long as it’s not too distracting, but if that doesn’t work for you, then find a singular place that does–bedroom, kitchen, hell, even the bathroom–and retreat there.
3. have a plan of action
What are you going to do during your hour of alone time? Write? Okay, great. What are you gonna write? A scene? A chapter? Your thoughts? Doesn’t matter, you decide–it’s your time to do with as you please, but if you start with a goal in mind, then you can really make the most of that time. If you’re easily distracted by your phone, then put it on silent or in “do not disturb” mode. Make a to-do list. Whatever keeps you from staring blankly into space or taking a nap. (Though sometimes, that’s not a bad plan, either.)
4. block out the noise
Some people can put headphones in and listen to music while they write. If you are one of those people, might I recommend the Perfect Concentration playlist on Spotify? It’s all classical and it’s one of my favorites for focusing. Honestly, most classical is good for that. On the flipside, some people need absolute silence. If you’re one of those people, then maybe your optimal time is in the morning or late at night. Or I suppose you could always use some earplugs if you have a noisy house, which I assume you can pick up at your local hardware store.
5. make it nice
You can’t be alone all the time, so when you are, make it a pleasant experience for yourself, gosh darnit! Especially if you’re the kind of person who doesn’t necessarily enjoy being alone. Music can definitely be part of that if it’s your thing, but you could also put on some comfy clothes, make yourself a nice cup of coffee or tea, have a glass of wine or other adult beverage of choice, have a little snack or treat, or even light a candle. Of course now it’s sounding a lot like a spa day sans the bubble bath, but hey, what’s so wrong with that?
Any way you slice it, it is possible to have quality alone time that isn’t, I dunno, lonesome. Without people and things distracting you, you can really hone in on your thoughts and focus on getting them on paper/word processor, or immersing yourself in a good book, or whatever it is you like to do–as long as you’re having fun doing it.
how do you feel about being alone? what are you tips for having quality alone time? please feel free to share!