I think a lot of people have this preconceived mental image of the Solitary Writer. As if we are some kind of rare animal you watch on the Discovery Channel, our every move narrated by a melodramatic British man:
“There she is, alone in the dim light, hunched over her laptop, pecking erratically at the keys. Watch as she mutters to herself and stares forlornly out the window. With her ratty hair and poor fashion sense, she really is an odd sight to behold. But when she produces that smooth, lyrical prose — oh! — she is a wondrous creature indeed.”
Okay, if I’m being honest, I suppose we are like that sometimes. I mean, my daily work clothes are cotton shorts and a tank top (or yoga pants and a hoodie when it’s cold) and I spend 50-70% of my day on the computer with only my dog Riley for company.
You’d think that all that alone time would mean I get a lot done. But sometimes it’s too much of a good thing. Sometimes I need chores to break up my day. Sometimes I need social interaction to stay sane.
Obvious solution: go out!
And yeah, that works. I like mixing up my week by spending a day at the coffee shop or the library. But when you’re a Poor Writer Folk, every penny counts. I tell myself that each smoothie, each tank of gas, is an investment in my career — and it’s true — but at the same time, I have to live within my means.
Enter Google Hangout.
I’ll be honest, I don’t think Google Plus is all that and a bag of chips. I mean, it’s fine, but what does it do for me that Facebook and Twitter don’t? Nothing. HOWEVER. Regardless of what happens to Plus, I hope Google will keep the Hangout feature. It’s like Skype, only different. Hangout works directly through your browser and lets you video chat (with up to 9 other people) for free.
In other words, I can “get out” without even leaving my home.
Author Jamie Ford has been hosting weekly writers Hangouts every Wednesday afternoon, and I admit I went into the first one thinking, “I’ll just try this once to be nice.” Turns out, it’s awesome. We chat for 15 minutes, work for 45, repeat every hour. To my surprise, I’m relatively productive during these Hangouts, which in turn makes me happy, which in turn makes me more productive.
I think it’s because I have more fun being distracted by fellow writers than my own pointless web surfing. And they make it easier to get back to work. When their keys are clicking, I know mine should be too. The internet, on the other hand, never says, “Okay, Kristan, that’s enough goofing around.”
So what I’m saying is, even the Solitary Writer needs friends sometimes. And the right kind of distractions can actually make you more productive. If you can’t meet up with a buddy or work at a coffee shop, give Hangout a try. In fact, tomorrow is Wednesday. Join me and Jamie if you can!