Beating the Self-Inflicted Isolation Blues, Part 2

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To maintain contact with others — without disrupting your writing schedule, try:

Working Out

My wife convinced me joining a health club would benefit me physically and socially. I made it a habit to drive to a health club for exercise, mild weight-lifting, then a refreshing shower. I’d usually do this mid-afternoon to break up the monotony of a full day of writing. Sometimes on a treadmill I’d talk to the people next to me. Other times I’d get on a stair-stepper and listen to an audio book.

Library Visits

I limited myself to two visits each week — each time for only research. But I’d also ask the librarians what topics were hot that week. Sometimes I’d wander into the children’s department and chat with students and teachers. I’d go to the video section and ask people what good or bad movies they’d seen and what they’d recommend and why. Not only were these talks fun, but they also gave me insight into what people were interested in. As a writer, I needed that.

Writers Groups

I joined two professional associations that held annual conventions where I could network with editors, agents, publishers, journalists, screenwriters, and novelists. I also joined a local writers club. It met only once a month, but the focus was usually interesting: a lawyer discussing copyright law changes, a newspaper reporter explaining how syndication works, or a librarian suggesting shortcuts to historical research.

Although writing is best accomplished in solitude, writers are often social. If we weren’t curious about people and events, we’d never have become writers. The trick is to strike a balance between socializing and work.

With today’s technological opportunities, you may feel less isolated. Still, nothing beats face to face meetings. A handshake, a smile, a look of surprise, an impromptu question . . . some things can be experienced only in person.

As a writer who’s discovered the value of coming out of hiding, I hope that never changes.

Dr. Dennis E. Hensley is the author of Jesus in the 9 to 5 (AMG Publishers) and Man to Man (Kregel), as well as 50 other books. He writes and teaches in Indiana.

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