The concept of solitude is getting a bad name lately, in the era of social everything. We’re both connected and disconnected at the same time and creativity cannot survive or emerge in environments that do not encourage it. Solitude has come to represent something negative and anti-social, when in fact it is a very effective tool in achieving creativity, reaching that place within that needs to be explored and expressed.
Attitudes towards solitude
Creative people, artists, and scientists alike expressed (all throughout history) positive thoughts on the role of solitude in the creative process. Presently, other schools of thought place solitude and collaboration at opposite sides of the spectrum. The answer is not easy because as much as we’d like, things are rarely ever so black and white.
I believe that solitude is not at the opposite side of collaboration, they are rather on different panes. Solitude allows creativity to come to life, whereas collaboration increases the potential for creative endeavor. Solitude and collaboration are two different steps within the same process, they are not in competition with one another.
The role of solitude
Choosing to be alone in a somewhat disciplined manner can give you the time and space necessary to process your emotions, by looking within.
Creativity is a very personal kind of experience, one that does not look like or get manifested the same for all. It is because creativity is so personal and subjective, the reason why it requires lots of introspection, thought and access to what helps it emerge: feelings. The emotions that you can relate to so well when you read a book, look at a painting or a photograph, or listen to music.
Emotions can be hard to access, especially because we have so many walls and defenses in place to protect ourselves. Accessing emotions requires dedicated time and effort in focusing within. That means that you need to be able to pause without distraction or interruptions. The goal is to give your mind blankness or the space that you need in order to step within and connect with yourself.
For some, this might sound like a tedious process and that is fairly true; you need lots of courage, patience, empathy towards yourself, and discipline to get to that point and many times it is impossible to do it on our own; therapy can help though.
Solitude (paired with silence) is one of the main keys to creativity because it can lead you straight to the emotions that need your attention most, and with it to the inspiration you are seeking.