Creative isolation or loneliness?
July 18, 2006
Mark Hollander writes something that resonates with me:
It is interesting that for a field as collaborative as ours just how much time we spend in complete isolation. I look at my weekly time sheets and am amazed at just how much time I am alone, staring at a computer screen. Writers are confronted by a taunting empty document waiting to be filled. The editors I work with can spend as much as 60 hours a week alone in a dark room working on their AVIDs. Directors break out scripts in isolation. And even Producers with the million phone calls that must be made to get one simple shoot set up are still isolated. Long term happiness (not to mention mental health) requires a steady diet of human interaction. We are by nature social creatures… and when denied interaction by the demands of work or the allure of email, it takes it’s toll.
I spend a lot of time alone – thinking, writing, planning etc and there are times when I’m in one of those contemplative moods that I have to remind myself to reach out and make contact. Solitary periods are a necessary part of my work but I contrast that with being an extroverted thinker – which means that I rarely know what’s on my mind until I start talking to someone.
I don’t experience solitary times as lonely but they can sometimes be isolating so my rules (for myself) around this when I know I am going into one of these phases are:
- Make plans to meet friends or colleagues for lunch on a regular basis
- Pick up the phone and chat with a friend or colleague either about the work or about a social matter at least once a day
- Make sure to get out of the office for a walk, coffee or some other “outside” activity during the working day
- Recognise the difference between needing to talk to think and needing to talk to forget!
- Mind the boundary around time because it often blurrs when there’s nobody to remind me the working day is over
Do you experience working on your own as isolating or lonely? How do you manage social context in oe of those phases?