Wednesday, February 5, 2014

solitude among the creative, questions to ask characters, and the importance of space

This article from The Atlantic makes a beautiful conclusion: in order to create, artists need solitude. I've written here about mental health in the creative community and how there are higher rates of both depression and suicide among artists. However, at one point, there was an idea that artists needed this in order to produce work. Now, studies are showing the value in being alone, in sitting with thoughts and emotions and questions. 

This past Saturday, I planned to stay in and write all night. I ended up writing for half the day and then going out with friends. When I mentioned my original plan, one said, "That sounds boring!" I laughed because from the outside, it might seem like that but for writers, hours alone are a necessary way of life. 

Just sitting and contemplating allows one to dig deeper. I've found the same to be true when I'm with patients in the hospital. Only when I pull up a chair, put away my notes, and probe further about their questions do I get a better picture of what happened to them. 

It's all about this concept, this digging deeper, that requires space from everything else. 

With that in mind, I've also known that I need to dig deeper and asked my characters these questions. I heard their answers in my head, in their voices, and those told me they were becoming more developed. My M.C.'s mother speaks in quick, rational sentences while my M.C. is an emotional rambler. Her fiance is an aspiring, always impatient neurosurgeon with a soft spot for his mother.

How are you misunderstood?

What do you want more than anything in life? Why?

Who do you love?

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

P.S. On an unrelated note, my favorite feminist, Ms. Gloria, traveled through India to learn more about the women's rights movements. She never stops inspiring. 


  1. I must be off the bell curve, as I'm rarely depressed and usually happy.
    It does take those quiet moments to find the deepness.

  2. I absolutely need some solitude in every day or I am not at my best. I am not a loner by any means, but that space sets the tone of health and life for me. Wise questions indeed~

  3. I'm stressed a lot, which can hamper creativity. I worry too much.
    Imagination can be an enemy as well as friend.

  4. i absolutely looooove solitude...

  5. Very true. Writers do need to be alone and think deeply without any kind disturbance, only then they can come up with their masterpiece.

  6. I know exactly what you mean. When I have hours to myself to just write, it's bliss. My family went on vacation this summer. Those 3 went surfing for the first time. I skipped the lesson. On a cliff overlooking the beach, I wrote during their 2-hour lesson. It's one of my favorite memories of the trip. Of course, I have a lot of great memories of the trip that include my family too!