Screenwriting : Why is it common for people to say writers have no friends? by Emily Ann Jefferson

Emily Ann Jefferson

Why is it common for people to say writers have no friends?

So, I often hear that people say writers are very lonely people. Personally I'm very lonely but I don't want to be lonely. It's just that no one wants to talk to me. But it's often said that writers are the most lonely people, or am I wrong?

Josephine Perry-Folino

They often tend to be introverted, have a good amount of empathy and are sensitive souls...the good ones. So there you have it.

Phillip "The Genuine Article" Hardy

Whoever says that is no friend of mine!

Jody Ellis

I’ve never heard anyone say that or had it said to me.

Josephine Perry-Folino

Hmmmm, Christine. I agree generalizations always have an element of exaggeration. I guess perhaps it depends on one's focus. Some writers use their personal interior imaginary world and others focus outward. Most serious writers I have known personally are both observant of human nature but inwardly quite serious and sometimes moribund, also a bit self obsessed. Are we talking Hemingway/Richard Yates/Sylvia Plath versus Tom Clancy/Stephen King ? Are we talking literary fiction versus popular fiction? And as far as screenwriting...are we talking Nora Ephron vs Sophia Coppola? I don't know if the answers to the original question are true or not, including my own. I know generalizations are loaded with fallacies. But it's a good discussion: what is the mind of a writer really like and how does it work?

Stephen Thor

Nothing wrong being lonely. Many married people have at least one who is lonely. I believe that it depends on what a personal interpretation of lonely is. I also consider myself to be a lonely person. However, I am used to it and much prefer it to not being lonely but have a bunch of fair-weather spouses, friends and associates who abandon you at the first sign of a storm. By being a lonely person, you refuse to include yourself in a world of fakeness, false and shallow friends and the like. Also remember you may be vunerable to falling deeply in love with the wrong person and six months later find yourself completely abandoned and more lonely than even before and likely minus a good sum of money and assets, especially if you had become married. Embrace your loneliness!

Stephen Thor

Also so not confuse being lonely with being a loner. Nothing wrong with that either, but, unfortunately if you wish to do well as a writer you will be forced to come into contact with people who may be insincere, incompetent, fakes and worse. But also consider that it just takes ONE person that believes in you and your story and make it happen, so you cannot rule out everyone. Accept everyone who becomes available as a friend until proven otherwise and don't forget the old saying "nothing ventured, nothing gained".

Chris Ross Leong

Perhaps it is that writing isn't really a social function - not counting the kids texting to each other while in the same room as each other, that is. We tend not to talk much when we're writing, especially not to each other. Also, thinking about writing usually also happens in silence. Not so when people get together - that's socializing, and therefore talking and listening and not writing. So I'd say that when the chatters chat about writers writing, it's reasonable to say that writers don't mix much - when writing. Of course, when writers aren't writing and they are chatting, well, then they're being sociable, have friends and enemies, etc. - but aren't being writers, at that time.

Nah, just kidding. I think that writers in general tend to do huge amounts of sensory input, as grist for their mills. So when in company, they tend not to mix so much, but observe more. Is that introversion? I don't think so, but it's hard to tell a writer at work (inputting, not outputting) from an introvert. So probably easy to get them mixed up.

Finally, there was a study out there awhile ago that said that most people, when asked how many real friends they had, could count that number on one hand, maybe a touch more. 5 to 6 really good friends was the average. Maybe 50 so-so friends, and maybe 150 acquaintances. But only a handful of true friends.

So not that much difference, after all.

John Day

Chris Leong: LOL -- glad you were kidding. That first paragraph was like an LSAT question.

Josephine Perry-Folino

Great insights Chris. I must agree with what you have articulated so well. One thing..why is introversion to many people a somewhat negative thing?

Chris Ross Leong

But wait, there's more. To answer your initial question, I have a sneaking suspicion that the reason most writers feel lonely is that a) they're on a specific quest, usually, and either writing about things that most people don't know about, or haven't thought about yet (which is what originality is defined as) or b) they go into common topics either much deeper or in a way that others haven't explored before.

So by definition a writer is not with the masses vis a vis thoughts, interests, conversation topics, etc., and therefore, according to the Greek definition, insane. Not with the majority.

And finally c) after a diet of pure intellect and visceral excellence, most regular folk seem... well let's just say that clever people in general, and probably writers in particular, tend not to suffer fools lightly.

And of course, as we all know, we're all trained to listen to all the inane surface level chat that comprises regular folks' dialog - and cut it all out, leaving only finely crafted superbly nuanced words dripping with subtext... whereupon any "normal" person tends to look at us funny and move off to the next, more comfort-zoned, conversation.

And after a while of that...

Perhaps it's ultimately true, then, what they say about creative artists. Like computer programmers (who really don't speak common English either), artists can only really get along with other artists. Only then can they achieve all desired levels of communication in a timely and meaningful manner, have fun, understand the thought process when the other disengages suddenly and without warning, only to return later on, much refreshed and energized by the silence -- and not feel so lonely, in the end.

Who knows? Maybe that's what places like the Stage 32 forums are for?

Bill Costantini

It's easy to make friends with people - it's hard to keep friends. Therein lies the rub. True friendship - and what goes into it - is a great theme to explore in writing, by the way.

Best wishes to you, Emily, and best fortunes in your writing!

Josephine Perry-Folino

Chris...wow. Very impressive insights. Thanks for sharing your ideas and insights. Very helpful. I think I like being around creative artists just for all the reasons you mentioned.

Chris Ross Leong

Agreed, Bill -- and Josephine, thank you for your kind words!

And John: when is a writer not a writer, who then becomes a writer... LOL!!!

And Emily, you can relax now, you're among friends here.

John Day

Chris Leong: Not sure everyone caught your humor, but I enjoyed it. A little levity goes a long way in this business.

Christopher Poet

Maybe because a majority of us spend more time locked in a room behind a desk writing then we do socializing lol.

Peter Roach

Take a break once in a while , do something stupid. When I was working to I took mini vacations. I would go to some place for two days. Just jumped on the train/plane and went; no planning. Met wonderful people. Gave a Navajo a ride on afternoon in northern AZ, he spoke to me in Navajo for 20 minutes. I just nodded and said Aha, Aha. Bet you that is going in one of my scripts.

Monalisha Gantayat

Loneliness is a state of mind. There is a difference between solitude & feeling lonely. Yes we seek for solitude to focus on the master piece but feeling lonely has nothing to do with what profession we are into. When we make this statement "I don't want to be lonely"- we are calling in for more of loneliness because the vibration we put out there to the universe comes back to us. Practise positive affirmations whenever you feel lonely henceforth- Simple mirror exercise for shifting your vibration, stand in front of the mirror and say- I am full of life, I am no more lonely, the world is my oyster, everybody wants to be sorrounded by me because I vibrate in higher frequencies, I am no more slave to the unhealthy thought patterns & lower vibrations, I am rising above duality. Try these affirmations, also practise physical movements like walking by the nature, hugging a tree, yoga and dancing, also take essential oil baths to balance and ground your physical & emotional energies. You need not seek for others attention to feel whole and vibrant, just nurture & nourish your body, mind, heart and spirit, which is what your self is asking for, rest will automatically fall into place. If you need any further info, please feel free to leave a note. My prayers & love for you dear Emily. Cheers & best wishes for your writing. Thank you

Adam Harper

Hey Emily. Writing can be a lonely experience but, it doesn't have to be. I like to write comedy, and collaboration is really effective with finding the "funny." Collaboration can work great for other genre's too.

Also, if you want your writing to be produced, or published - it will only happen by making connections. Some will be purely business, but, some will become friendships. I love talking with other writers, they understand my struggle better than anyone. Perhaps find and attend a local writing meet up.

If there aren't any local groups for you. You still have Stage 32 - we're a lovely bunch (mostly) and there's always someone here to chat with :-) If you're ever feeling lonely, drop me a message, seriously.

Speak soon! Adam

Owen Mowatt

What do you look for in a friend? Make a list. And if that list is not describing you, then maybe you are the reason why you are lonely.... and you should just get a cat.

A little introspection goes a long way, Emily. None of us are perfect and the world isn't always the problem.

Jacob Buterbaugh

I've recommended books to you before. I'll do it again.

The Obstacle Is The Way by Ryan Holiday... He teaches 21st Century Stoicism. This is a very helpful philosophy that applies to every aspect of life.

Captivate by Vanessa Van Edwards... She teaches social skills. She's awesome!

The Social Skills Guidebook by Chris Macleod.... He teaches social skills for people who have social anxiety. There is also a website if you can't find the book.

And there's a lot of great stuff on YouTube. Check out a channel called Charisma On Command. Vanessa Van Edwards has a channel with excellent videos about communication and social skills.

In the 21st Century, you can pretty much learn anything, and you can damn near change everything, including this. Keep your head up. Feeling lonely is just a part of being human sometimes. It happens. To all of us. But it doesn't last forever.

And find people to make movies with! That will expand your social circle as you learn about your craft.

Josephine Perry-Folino

Thanks for all that good info Jacob. I particularly like the "find people to make movies with"...

Jacob Buterbaugh

You're welcome.

Josephine Perry-Folino

It's all about the giving and only then receiving what comes from that if anything. It should never be the goal of giving however. It's also about being kind because everyone is fighting some kind of inner battle to one degree or another, aren't they?

Owen Mowatt

Actually, I can think of another word for them....two if you "need" me.

Doug Nelson

Basically Emily - you're what I like to refer to as 'wrong" Sounds like you be hangin' with the wrong folk.

Stephen Thor

I would consider a true friend as someone who can help land me an agent as I am obviously either incapable. unable or too incompetent to do so on my own. hahaha or maybe not hahaha. .I found that it is just as hard, or harder, to get an agent to accept an unaccomplished (no substantial movies already under their belt or skirt) speculative screenwriter's work and a 5 star referral, plus a famous movie star or producer pushing your script and so on... obviously, dating or marrying an agent's or major producer's relative might help as well, but it is a long shot at best. But seriously folks, after sending out about 150 query letters and beating the bush, I saw that a script involving a woman's sexual relationship with her dog on Blacklist had made the top grade. I knew then that I was in real trouble. Yep, a movie to take the whole family to! But this is totally off the subject.

But to the point, you may have more friends than you realize, at least here you can have more sincere cyber friends than, say on facebook where one failure to "like" a comment or to de-friend someone or a misunderstanding/misinterpretation is like the end of the world to some like their lives depend on it. Being rejected by someone is about as worthless as a rejection by an agent. Most speculative writers have plenty of rejections, it just means that those who reject you are unable or unwilling to comprehend true genius, imagined or real. I personally do not link rejection with being lonely or being alone, altho it may feel like it.

I once looked at a friend's facebook page and it was LOADED with pictures of very hot women. I asked my friend if he had either met or dated any of them and he said no. Funny, he later de-friended me! But let's be honest here... yes, many of us are here to help other writers and I frequently refer beginners to this site, but there is also many of us who want to use others here to advance their project or forward their career, themselves or land a job, agent, whatever. I see no problem with this either, as networking is problably the best chance a writer has. It's all about who you know and that person may very well be somewhere on this site. A lonely person can cash an option check just as well as a "popular" person, if everything just boils down to money in the long run, which I do not believe.

Pamela Bolinder

Emily: Not all writers are lonely. Stage 32 is a place to discuss craft and the industry, make connections and promote your work.

Friendships are developed by spending time with a person (in person) who mutually desires to stay connected. Virtual connections should not be considered "friends".

Emily if it's true that no one wants to talk to you then you need to self-assess about your end of the relationship equation. The next time you meet someone that potentially could be a friend make your conversation about them, be upbeat and positive.

How is your screenplay coming along? Do you have a logline or synopsis you want to share?

Cherie Grant

agree with you Pamela. Emily, I never had friends when I was your age. It's not uncommon. Young people are notoriously shallow, superficial and judgemental. It takes years to overcome those traits. You just have to keep on going and be honest with self appraisal and self reflection. For some of us it just takes a life time to make friends. I had to learn to be comfortable with myself. And no it is not true that all writers are lonely.

Josephine Perry-Folino

Perhaps a differentiation between lonely and alone would help? IMHO...and from what I have read....Loneliness is apparently at epidemic proportions, particularly in the US, since social media became a substitute for human interaction face to face. Many studies have been done on this. Also people tend to WANT to be liked and looked at all through their lives which is why social media "profiles" are not always as honest as they might be. But the worst part about s.m. is that what I call "the gaze" is now practically gone from daily human interaction. Dogs look you in the eyes, one of the only species that does so. The eye to eye connection tells us a lot more than anything that happens on s.m. You learn to read a person when you are with them. I think writers can be really good at this. But once you are out of college, or move away from where you grew up, you need to make a real conscious effort at building and growing friendships. Also people are so frantic about making a living now and rightfully so since the cost of everything has skyrocketed, there is a tendency towards burn out. And burned out people are often "lonely" because they are tired. And struggling. Now being alone too much can lead to loneliness obviously but being alone can also be a wonderful chance to explore deeper feelings and issues to help you grow. As in all things..balance. The Golden Means.

Pamela Bolinder

I love human face-to-face interaction! Having friends is fun! I also love my writing time. Mix it up! Get fresh air. I just got back from a walk in the temperate misty rain with a friend. A perfect night!

Cherie Grant

OMG temperate misty rain. That is literally my favourite thing in the world. and if I'm walking through hundred year old trees then the better.

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