Writing a novel is a dream that many of us share. After all, what’s not to love about the prospect of spending long, luxurious days by ourselves, typing away in a chic office space (no crumpled Twix wrappers or cold mugs of coffee in this fantasy), all culminating in an actual, real, published book?
However, as great as that sounds, unfortunately it appears the reality of writing our own book is a litte different to how we’ve always pictured it.
According to Jane Green, a bestselling British author who has sold more than 10 million books, writing a novel can actually be an extremely lonely experience.
And, as someone who has written 20 books so far, she is certainly speaking from experience.
Writing in The Telegraph, Green opened up on the reality of writing novels from home, stating, “Days had gone by when I realised I hadn’t left my house… I hadn’t spoken to anyone but my family in days.”
The 49-year-old goes on to list her daily writing routine, which will strike a chord with freelancers working from home everywhere.
“I had got up every morning and showered, hit my desk to write a couple of thousand words, had leftovers for lunch, welcomed the children back from school, made dinner for everyone, then went to bed leaving my husband working downstairs.”
Detailing how the monotony of her housebound routine had started to make her feel, Green explained how she gradually become more and more disconnected from the world – especially while browsing social media feeds, something that scientists have frequently connected to feelings of isolation.
“It is just me, my book, and the internet,” she writes. “I spend hours online scrolling through social media, procrastinating instead of writing. I think I am connected to the world, but, in reality, I am more isolated than ever.”
And the isolation began to have real consequences.
“Consequently, I have become more introverted; more fearful of being out in the world. I have gone so long without the easy chatter of an office that it feels like I have forgotten how to connect with people - crucial to feeling you belong.”
Green, who has so far had 17 novels on the New York Times bestseller list, adds that she originally thought she had “hit the jackpot” when she quit her job writing for the Daily Express to devote her time to writing books.
“Now I could own my own time. I could spend days in pyjamas until late afternoon if I wanted to,” she writes.
“Finally, it felt like I had real balance, a far cry from my office job on a national newspaper surrounded by noise, hard work, and chatter.”
She finished her first novel, Straight Talking, just seven months after quitting her job, and enjoyed instant success when it became a bestseller after publication in 1997.
However, some 20 years later, she is keen to point out the lonely reality of working on your own from home – and has even launched her own co-working space to help other women tackle the isolation of working for yourself.
“I wanted to discuss the finale of Big Little Lies at the water cooler; I wanted to have a routine; to step out of the lonely work/life bubble I had created for myself and be in the world again,” she writes.
Her space currently has nine workers, and she is renovating the office to create desks for a further 16, along with a “drop in inexpensive writer’s room”.
And it seems that in re-connecting with others, she has found a cure for the loneliness of working from home.
“Already, incredible collaborations have taken place; friendships have been struck up, and business ideas exchanged,” she adds.
“The loneliness has gone, I finally feel like I belong again.”
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