Saturday, 21 June 2014

Anti-social? Who me? Well yes, actually

It seems these days that there's nothing more important than being social. With all this emphasis on social media and Facebook this and Twitter that, sometimes it seems like the worst thing anyone could possibly do is try to find any time away from the rest of the world.

There seems to be even more pressure on us writers. If we're not out there selling ourselves and our books, then we're definitely behind the eight ball. We have to be as big and loud as we can, after all how else is the world ever going to know about us and our wonderful, groundbreaking, earth shattering stories.

I hear all of that, and I'm doing my best. I can regularly be spotted shooting my mouth off on Twitter and Facebook. Even the fact that I'm doing this blog is a testament to that. But I have to say I find it pretty draining. Because, when it comes down to it, I'm just not the sociable type.

Sure, I'm not completely antisocial. I do actually have friends (at least I did last time I checked) and I do get out of the house to socialise (all right, maybe not that often, but I blame that on the kids). But, the fact of the matter is, given the choice of a raging, noisy party or a bit of quiet alone time, I'll often quite happily choose the latter over the former.

It's the quiet alone time that I really value. It's the chance to be alone with my thoughts. That's when I can recharge, and work the stress of everyday life out of my system. And that's the time when I can generate the ideas that I need for my stories.

Whether it's coming up with new ideas, or sorting out seemingly intractable problems in a work-in-progress, quiet alone time is absolutely vital. I would even go as far as to say it's the most important tool any writer can have. Sure, we may know about all the various writing methods and techniques, but without that quiet alone time, I don't see how you can ever put them into action properly.

So I guess that's enough of me being here for now. It's time for me to cut out and find a quiet spot. I'm sure real-life will drag be back at some point. But in the meantime, I'm off to be unsociable.


  1. I don’t think you’re the exception, more the norm. There are a few writers who cope well in the spotlight—authors like Jeanette Winterson and Ian Rankin jump to mind although whether they’re naturally comfortable in front of an audience or have simply become comfortable through exposure I’ve no idea—but I still expect it’s more of an effort for them than it appears. Writers are people who prefer their own company; we live inside our own heads and anything that pulls us out of there is, frankly, a nuisance. I’m not a shy person—when faced with a group situation I gird up my loins and get on with it—but I’d rather not get on with it. Seven years ago when I began all this Internet malarkey I made a conscious effort to go for it, to be proactive and to make friends. Now I do virtually nothing. I have a few blogs that I read faithfully—yes, you are among the privileged few—and I scan Facebook once or twice a day and occasionally add a witty comment when I can think of something witty in a timely fashion but that’s about me these days. The reason? I think everyone is getting tired. Most of my friends have been at this for as long as me, have run out of things to say and are also disillusioned by the lack of interest in their work. And all we ever wanted to do was curl up inside ourselves and do what we do—or at least enjoy doing—best. I think even the most optimistic of souls would be struggling by now. I haven’t checked the stats for my blog in months—easily over a year—and I think if I did I might just pack it all in and go off and write books that no one will read which is what I was doing ten and twenty years ago and it really wasn’t a terrible life. It all boils down to ROI doesn’t it? Return on investment. What am I getting out of all this and is it worth the time and money spent on it? If I’m honest the answer is a resounding: Not a lot. But I haven’t quite run out of momentum yet.

  2. It is strange isn't it? Most artists and writers are introverts, but as always it is the extraverts who call the shots in this world. How could one be creative and be out there socialising all the time?
    I love what you have written Jim. I am going to your blog right now. :)