Why we cherish time alone

Green lizard, Borneo cr Judy DarleyThe world is full of attention-seekers. Loud-mouthed, large-charactered, extroverts who seem never to have a thought without it spilling outwards. It’s the way we’re told we ought to be to get on in life, prosper.

But nature enjoys balance, which means there is very much a place for those who think more often than they speak, who sometimes like to observe without engages, who are enriched by time alone. Who occasionally actually need time alone.

I’m one of those people. And it turns out, ironically, I’m not alone.

I love to catch up with friends, meet new people and have exciting unfamiliar experiences. I thrive on those things. But equally I relish my pockets of time spent alone, thinking, being creative, admiring the way sunlight dapples a wall… Being contemplative enriches me – it allows ideas to drift to the surface and be caught.

If you’re a writer struggling to write, I suggest you carve out a segment of time just for you. Tell your friends you have to work (you don’t necessarily need to say what at), switch off your phone, shut down Facebook/twitter et al. If you feel like going for a wander in a nearby leafy cemetery, then do. If you fancy lying on the carpet in a patch of sunshine like a cat, then do. If you want to immerse yourself in a book (my current choice is All The Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld), then do.

Butterfly, Borneo cr Judy Darley

And when coherent thoughts begin to filter through, make sure you’re ready pin them down before they can be lost. Because sometimes writing is about being quiet, being patient and allowing yourself some time alone so that the ideas have the courage to emerge, and you have the focus to recognise and identify them before they’re gone forever.