Writing Wednesday: 10 Ways to Socialize

I want to be alone. Except for when I don't.

Yes, I know it’s Friday, not Writing Wednesday. But bear with me– I’ve been writing guest blog posts  for the release of my paperback next week, so that has consumed most of my time.

For me, working alone is one of the hardest things about writing (aside from, you know, the practical aspects, like unpredictable pay).  What I liked about working in an office was how I could go bug my friends when I needed a break.  It provided some socialization for me.

Now I  have to work harder at socialization.  I’m basically an introvert, but I do need to be around other actual human beings. Being an introvert means being friendly and social doesn’t always come naturally. Yes, my kids are home for the summer.  No, kid socialization doesn’t cut it.  What happens is I am solo all day and when Cadillac gets home, he is my sole source of adult support, so I’m all over him (not that way, in an emotionally needy way) like white on rice, which might not be the best thing ever.  I don’t know if you know this, but women and men communicate differently. I know!  It’s true. Really. That Cadillac, he doesn’t mind fixing stuff or discussing a variety of other issues, but he is not the best at talking about shoes or gossiping about celebrities. Or talking about writing.

Anyway, I’ve been trying to come up with OPTIONS for those times when I feel doldrum-ish. Usually what happens for me is my social events get pushed into one solid week, until I am completely overwhelmed, and then there’s nothing going on forever.

1. Coffee houses. I primarily use the coffee house for reading through printed pages.  People in coffee houses tend to talk loudly on cell phones or to their friends over the noise of the blenders/grinders.  And my bladder being thimble-sized means I will have to pee at least once, meaning I’ll lose my table or my laptop.

Also, I’m not good at striking up conversations with strangers.  I always imagine they’re thinking, “What is she trying to sell me?” or, “I’m trying to WORK here” or “I think this woman is desperately trying to flirt with me and not doing a very good job at it.”   All of which are not helpful to my casual socialization needs.  And what if once they start talking, they never stop, so then I never can get any work done?  It’s paralyzing.  To me.

It *could* work if you went often enough to befriend regulars, I guess.  There’s also one secret coffee house I really like where the owner is super nice and will keep an eye on my laptop if I use the restroom.  (And I feel like I shouldn’t keep it secret, because I want her to be successful and not close;  on the other hand, I like that it’s mostly uncrowded.  Hmm.)

But secretly I’m hoping that there will somehow be a bunch of other writers in there like me, and we will become FAST FRIENDS FOREVER, and it will become a Salon like Paris in the 20s with Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Stein.  Except I don’t think those writers were particularly happy or healthy, and I kind of want to be.

Anyway, if you are the kind of person who *is* good at talking to strangers, you probably already go to coffee houses and do this without all the fretting I’m doing.  And if you’re not, you’re sitting there agreeing with me. So maybe this wasn’t that helpful after all.  Ah well. It’s still number one on my list.

2. Google Plus Hangouts.  Earlier this week, I was on a Google Plus writer’s hangout.  The hangout feature of Google Plus is like Skype, only better, because Skype doesn’t let you do group chat like this.  You have to have  a mic and camera, and it shows everyone in the chat, and whoever is talking has the biggest picture.  You talk for a while, then write.  I was afraid I’d do something weird while we were all typing; but if I did, nobody said anything.  Also, I had the curious feeling I was being monitored.  Like study hall.  I actually did a lot of work– currently, I am working on 17 guest blogs for the release of my paperback.

There are other public writer’s hangouts, hosted by various writers, I’m told. You can also start your own.

I don’t know how you get on Google Plus at this stage, reliably.  I asked to be invited, and then a friend told me they had opened up more slots and I went and re-logged in and it let me create an account.

3. Phoning a friend. This doesn’t always pan out, because friends are usually busy in the middle of the day, doing things like WORKING or taking care of their own kids or driving.  You know, useless stuff like that.  Seriously, if you use this, say something like, “Hey, I’m just calling to chat, do you have time?” and if they say no, then hang up.  I mean, hang up after you use the closing sentences like “good-bye” and all that.

I am really only comfortable phoning a few friends.  I always feel like I’m impinging on them.  I guess I shouldn’t be.  Am I not gracing their day with my words of wisdom and sunny disposition?  Don’t answer that.

4. Having lunch with a friend.  This is durned near impossible in the summer.  Also, it can get expensive and caloric.  But during the school year, I tried for every other week. Which meant really like once a month.

5. Having Mom’s Night Outs (or whatever you want to call it).  I’m in a truly wonderful Mom’s group, the only completely 100% cat-free mom’s group I’ve ever been in, and they schedule one or two of these every month.  Sometimes it’s an event someplace like a restaurant or bar, and sometimes it’s a night in at someone’s home. They also schedule play dates for kids.

6. Joining other groups.  I am in a knitting group that meets once a month, which means I might finish my scarf by Christmas, because that is the only time I knit. Also, I don’t know how to finish it, so I have to go. I’m also in two book clubs.

You can use Meetup to join groups.  The Mom’s group I’m in I found through Meetup, but every other group I have ever tried to join through Meetup hasn’t been great.  Maybe it’s just me.  Or the area.  But I’d say 1 out of 10 will be good, so don’t be discouraged if you go to a Meetup and find it to be an insular group of cronies who actually have no interest whatsoever in talking to anyone new.

7. Form a critique group that meets in flesh and blood.  I am in one, with two other writers.  We meet monthly.

8. Meet others online, and then meet in person.  Many online writing discussion groups,like SheWrites, have local groups to join, so you can network with other actual persons.

9. Find someone to exercise with. This will have a good two-fold effect: you get your daily exercise, and you get to talk to someone. I should probably take my own good advice here and do this.

10. Attend concerts and art openings to meet like-minded people. This requires striking up conversations with strangers (eek!) but I promise, it only hurts for a second. (I stole this from the sort of pretentious sounding article, How to Socialize with Intellectuals. Obviously the article’s not bad, though.)

Published by Margaret Dilloway

Middle grade and women's fiction novelist. FIVE THINGS ABOUT AVA ANDREWS, (Balzer + Bray 2020); SUMMER OF A THOUSAND PIES. MOMOTARO: Xander and the Lost Island of Monsters (Disney Hyperion); TALE OF THE WARRIOR GEISHA and SISTERS OF HEART AND SNOW, out now from Putnam Books. HOW TO BE AN AMERICAN HOUSEWIFE was a finalist for the John Gardner fiction award. THE CARE AND HANDLING OF ROSES WITH THORNS is the 2013 Literary Tastes Best Women's Fiction Pick for the American Library Association. Mother of three children, wife to one, slave to a cat, and caretaker of the best overgrown teddy bear on Earth, Gatsby the Goldendoodle.

One thought on “Writing Wednesday: 10 Ways to Socialize

  1. I’m an introvert too and can find myself perfectly content all alone. But I know I have to break out of my shell at times as well. I like the activities you describe. And I find the She Writes meet-ups are nice because you’re getting together with like people and for a short enough time you don’t feel completely drained. Ah, the joys of being introverted writers!

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