Over the last few weeks, I’ve finally started dipping my toes back into the pool of writing fiction. I’m finally developing a story idea into a real book after more than a year of “absent creativity”—and at last, I had a revelation: my creativity hadn’t really been gone; it had merely been asleep, recharging.
When I was a teenager, my dream was to be a novelist. I would sit in my room at my desk for hours, plotting, writing, editing. The “life of a writer”–or what I imagined it to be–consumed me. This was all I ever wanted: for it to be me, my characters, and my world. And of course, one day, a best-selling novel. But things didn’t quite work out that way.
Isolation and How it Handicaps Your Creativity
I’m just going to say it: when you isolate yourself from the world, as many writers feel the urge to do, it can severely damage your creativity. You may not notice the effects right away, but eventually, what happened to me will likely happen to you also.
Now, to be fair, I wasn’t a total hermit. I wasn’t completely isolated. I had like, two friends, okay? But I did spend most of my time alone, writing, and I liked it that way. However, over time, creating worlds and breathing life into characters grew harder, and I didn’t understand why.
This one simple thing—the solution to my “dying creativity” didn’t occur to me until years later: you can’t expect to breathe out creativity when you don’t take in the world around you.
Long-term isolation rarely helps writers. Instead, it causes the creative flow: the in and out; the ebb and flow of beauty entering and exiting your soul to grow stagnant.
Getting Out into the World
As a teenager, I had a very idealistic view of “the writer’s life”—and that view didn’t involve the world around me at all, so it was slightly traumatic for my creative spirit when adulthood ripped me out of that world and threw me into the Perilous Realm. I panicked at the apparent loss of creativity and even began to question my whole identity as a writer. What was happening to me?
Honestly? The best thing ever.
The demands of adult life: relationships, jobs, finances, etc. forced me to begin interacting with the world on a deeper level. I began to understand people—how they thought, how they lived, how they interacted with one another and processed things. I began to see the intricacies of how life really worked, and as a result, my previously pronounced dead creativity came back to life.
So, dear writer friends, if you get anything out of this post, get this: getting out into the world is good. It’s helpful. It’s actually quite magical for three reasons:
- It allows you to observe. Watching and learning about the world will bring a new level of authenticity and maturity to your writing.
- It allows you to interact with others. When you take time to not only observe, but actually interact with other people, you will gain a deeper understanding of humanity, which is ultimately beneficial to creativity.
- It allows you to reset. Sometimes you need to step back from your little bubble and take a bird’s eye view. Let the creativity ebb and flow. Getting out to observe and interact and simply live will do wonders for a suffering imagination.
This week, I want to challenge you to ask yourself this: are you living in a bubble? If the answer is yes, push out, even if just a little. Go out for coffee with a friend, talk with your co-workers, introduce yourself to somebody new. Be intentional about seeking things to prompt your imagination and stimulate your creativity.
- Have you found yourself living in isolation?
- How has it effected your creativity?
- What have you learned from getting out and interacting with the world?