Writing When All You Want to Do is Hide from the World

Oh, today I just want to hide.

We’ve had such cold and gray weather lately, and this makes me want to hibernate. And I mean literally hibernate — as in stockpile food and hole up in my house until the world brightens. In more ways than one.

We’re all feeling it. Every day bad news reaches us. No one can escape it. This world is scary as hell, this world never relents, and it sometimes it really seems to only get worse with every passing day. It’s this relentlessness that makes me want to retreat, far far away, where no one can hurt me.

But then I would be simply existing. And you know, it doesn’t take too much to exist. But it takes everything we have in us to live. Living requires intention. It requires bravery. And it requires that we be a part of the world around us.

So, too, does writing. We simply cannot write if we are just existing. If we are just existing, hiding away from the world, we have nothing to give. We are not meant to live isolated, separated lives on our own.

Of course, each of needs periods of rest, respite, solitude, peace.

Thomas Merton said

“all men need enough silence and solitude in their lives to enable the deep inner voice of their own true self to be heard.”

Henry David Thoreau was the one who penned the famous words,

“How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.”

I realize that both of these men were known for periods in their lives where they lived in solitude — Merton was a Trappist monk, Thoreau spent his time alone on Walden Pond. But they used these periods of solitude and contemplation intentionally. This time was not spent in hiding — they lived life in these times, and grew to know their true selves. And they still engaged with the world, and both men wrote words of deep meaning, speaking to important issues of their time.

Today I find my gut reaction to hurt is to hide. But I’ve learned to counteract these harmful impulses with opposite action. It does no one any good for me to hide. It may be a mode of self-preservation, but in the end, what it really does is separate me from what I alone can give this world in my unique way. I take the time to rest and regroup, yes, but then — engage.

Be bold. Be brave. Live your life, live your story, and then write of your true self, write your heart, write your story. Engage the world around you and write your truth. The world is changed for the better when we share our best selves with it.

So today, don’t act on any impulse to retreat and give up on your writing. Give of yourself, and write what’s inside you. It’s really the only way the world does brighten — when those of us who wish to brighten it act.

Come out of hiding. Live. Write.

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