Seek solitude to unleash creativity and to make outstanding work

There is a fundamental difference between loneliness and solitude: Loneliness is a state that is always related to our fellow human beings. Being stranded on an island, cut off from all people, makes us feel lonely. We can also feel loneliness even though we are with or surrounded by other people. For example, we can be out with our friends and still feel lonely because we lack a partner. We can move to a foreign city to study and still feel lonely, even though we meet dozens of other students every day. Loneliness has nothing to do with ourselves.

In solitude, we are just apart from others. Being alone means consciously exposing ourselves to silence. In doing so, we choose to shut out distractions. Being alone means listening to our feelings. The “gut feeling” formulates crystal clear sentences in silence. Our head might say, “I should actually apply to study in Rome, but I don’t know if I can do it all in time. I just have so much to do “. Deep down, we know that we can apply. Deep down, we know “I’m afraid to apply.” Now, the next step is ideally the question, “Why am I afraid to apply?”. Once we know the truth, we can make a plan.

The head of the snake is the fear of not failing, of succeeding

The fear is not filling out the application form or finding an apartment. It’s the fear of failure, for one thing. Of not passing the aptitude test. Or what will our friends think or our parents who were not enthusiastic about the idea anyway? This fear is real, but it’s not the most potent enemy. The head of the snake is the fear of not failing, of succeeding: what if we pass? Will we be able to keep up with the other students? What if studying isn’t suitable for us after all and we waste our time. What if we don’t make friends, find a job there, or become homeless? What if we return home with our tail between our legs and become a laughing stock for even trying? What if our relationship can’t stand the distance?

If we don’t fail, we destroy all excuses to pursue our path

Finally, the most fundamental fear is the fear of loneliness, of going out into the world without our tribe. After all, this behavior goes against our human nature. If we don’t fail, we destroy all excuses to pursue our path. Then there is no turning back.

The core of fear and thus the truth about ourselves sits deep, and facing it requires courage and can only succeed in solitude. But it is precisely in the state of solitude that the magic happens. 

“Sit at your desk and listen. Don’t even listen, just wait. Don’t even wait, be still and alone. The world will offer itself to you.” –

Franz Kafka

For creativity, enduring being alone is precious and a precondition for pursuing originality and quality in our work. A freelancer depends on his ability to be alone. First, freelancers often work in their office or home office. I had to get used to this silence. It took me weeks and months. No boss, no colleagues, no coffee breaks, no second opinions, no criticism, no confirmation. There was only me to make all the crucial decisions, and they all fell in moments of silence.

Silence becomes a tool for creative ideas

Second, silence becomes a tool for creative ideas. When looking for an idea for a cover illustration, I sit down in a coffee store, listen to instrumental music and do parallel research on the Internet. I enjoy this time, and the external impulses often give me exciting ideas that I wouldn’t have come up with at home. But it all gets serious when I’m under time pressure. Maybe I haven’t come up with a good idea yet, or I’m still not satisfied with the illustration. Then, there’s no music, no coffee, no distractions. Only silence… This is the place where the most creative thoughts and connections are born.

Some find being alone easy to deal with. Some avoid it at all costs. Here are three exercises for being alone, which help me a lot:

  1. Take a walk in nature. No cell phone, no music, no company.
  2. Go to a coffee store just by yourself while reading a book or filling your sketchbook with ideas and drawings. Leonardo DiCaprio says, “If you have the power to be in a restaurant or a cinema alone, you can do anything.”
  3. Traveling alone. The ultimate state of solitude. Here we have to figure everything out by ourselves, weigh and make every decision. We are constantly confronted with various problems, challenges, and new circumstances and environments. Sometimes we get angry with ourselves, sometimes we feel sorry for ourselves, sometimes we surprise ourselves, and sometimes we feel pride. With every experience, we get a bit closer to ourselves, which will be reflected in our work. 

We need to listen to ourselves without distractions to get to know ourselves. So we practice standing silent and being alone to get to know and listen to ourselves better. Just like Steven Spielbergs says:

“Your instinct, your human personal intuition always whispers. It never shouts.”

Steven Spielberg