For most fiction novelists, and nonfiction researchers, writing has often been a solitary occupation. Images of writers rooms for television or teams of people working on comics may make it seem like a social gathering. And yet, even then the writers still must come up with ideas and work on their own assignments, you guessed it…often alone.

When I lived in a major city with a NaNoWriMo (that’s National Novel Writing Month, held every year in November) presence, one of the things I loved were the “write-ins”, often at Panera bread or other coffee cafes. Ten or twenty authors, each of us with our laptops, a few brave souls with notebooks, would sit in booths, set up our “stations” and then the leader would time us and for the next ten or fifteen minutes we’d get words down as fast as we could. The goal, since NaNoWriMo is writing 50,000 words in a month, would be to bank as many words as possible during that hour or two, so if you had a bad day, there were “words in the bank” as it were.

In the neurodivergent community, especially the ADHD community, there’s a concept known as body doubling. For those of us with autism, one thing that’s discussed in parallel play. For children this might be seen as two children playing with their toys in the same room together, but not interacting. For my spouse and I, it’s each of us on our own laptops writing on our individual projects, often in silence or with a nature documentary on in the background.

If you don’t have a local community, then it can be difficult to find write-ins or other individuals to engage in body doubling (someone there with you doing a task while you accomplish your goals). Therefore, I think it’s important to find online venues where this is possible.

Hanging out on social media, attending virtual conferences, being in Discord with other writers can help counteract the isolation and loneliness. However, there are many times when social media makes you feel even more alone. A group write-in, to me, helps to combat the loneliness because you’re surrounded by other writers who know what you’re going through, what it’s like to be a writer–something not everyone understands.

Experiment with virtual tools to create a write-in, or find one to join. You may be amazed at the connections you’ll make.