It’s been a busy, chaotic and exhilarating week with my family. We rented a beach house and spent our days walking a long, pristine, and sparsely populated beach, playing in the water, reading, eating, and talking, talking, talking. And I was spectacularly unproductive – no writing at all. It was great!
Time for some solitude
If I’m going to get book 3 in the Lucy & Dee series written in the next year or two I have to find a door to close behind me. It’s time for some solitude.
What I’ve learned about solitude
The need to spend time alone was, and still is, common among many poets, novelists, composers, artists, innovators, and inventors. According to Michael Harris in his book, Solitude (2017), there are three crucial benefits provided by solitude: “new ideas; an understanding of the self; and a closeness to others.” In addition, it increases our ability to solve hard problems.
The mind needs some space from constant stimulation in order to let all of those fabulous, unique connections, forged during REM sleep, to burble to the surface of our conscious minds.
There is no need to go all hermit to get the benefits of solitude, nor do we need to isolate ourselves for long periods. We can maximize the benefits of solitude by simply striving to cycle between periods of solitude and engagement with the outside world. Solitude is about what’s happening in our brains, not the environment around us. It’s simply a state in which our mind is free from input from other minds. So, we can be solitary on even our morning commutes on the train if we allow ourselves to just be with our own thoughts rather than being on social media, listening to the radio/podcasts/audiobooks, reading, or otherwise engaging with another human. Moments of solitude—even small ones—when self-imposed, intentional, and fully appreciated, can have profound effects on our productivity and creative thinking.
Stepping away from the routine and disruption of daily life allows us to connect ideas we’ve been struggling with in new ways, follow creative impulses, and simply think about one thing at a time.
I know it’s something I’ve needed in regular doses all my life. It’s the one and only thing that helps me reset, recharge and let fresh thoughts flow.
And now for a moment of solitude
Get your Zen on.