I personally write best in a public space with a reasonable amount of activity around me, although I do sometimes work early in the morning, alone at my desk some days. It’s those days in solitude that prove especially difficult when I don’t have clear plans and habits to guide my actions.
Solitude is a learned practice, whether for writing or prayer, we will do best if we have some guides to help us experiment with what works best for us. This week’s featured article dives into the practice of writing alone.
According to Paul Jun at 99u, working alone also poses these challenges:
“When finally alone, it’s easy to allow a wave of self-doubt and insecurities to begin to flood your mind. Sitting in solitude for even five minutes makes you get up to grab a snack. Or to check Twitter. And perhaps the most challenging of all, you don’t know when to call it a day; the constant polish and re-polishing when your energy is low masquerades as productivity — or so it goes if you’re not prepared.”
What should you do about these challenges? Here are a few suggestions…
“Your work must be challenging enough to keep you engaged but easy enough to prevent frustration. Additionally, an ability to allow this ‘deep work’ to occur requires you to be vigilant about outside interruptions.”
According to Greg Ciotti, “Researchers have shown that a moderate noise level can get creative juices flowing, but the line is easily crossed; loud noises made it incredibly difficult to concentrate. Bellowing basses and screeching synths will do you more harm than good when engaging in deep work.”
“Be very clear and deliberate about what you should, can’t, or wouldn’t do. Without boundaries while being alone, you will work into the night with dark circles under your eyes, falling under the seductive illusion that you’re being productive. You’re dogged, yes, but at what cost?”
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