Do writers have friends?

As with so many things, the answer to my question is not binary. “Do writers have friends?” isn’t honestly a yes or no question. Some do, some don’t. I imagine many of us fall on a spectrum between.

In a recent episode of their podcast A Tiny Sense of Accomplishment, writers Sherman Alexie and Jess Walter discussed this idea. Alexie read somewhere that writers have three things in their lives: family, friends, and writing. And one of them will suffer.

The question, then, is—what’ll it be? For Alexie and Walter, it’s clearly friendships.

That’s been my experience as well.

Photo by Joakim Buchwald • freeimages.com

Photo by Joakim Buchwald • freeimages.com

I know plenty of writers who have put writing on the shelf to attend to family and friends instead. Whether you include your church circle as family or friends depends on your point of view, I suppose. To me, my church family is family.

This, of course, presumes that you’ve already eliminated time-wasters like television. Seriously, I only watch one TV show anymore, and since they only produce about eight episodes of Doctor Who a year now, that frees up a lot of time.

Still, my friendships suffer. And you know what? I don’t care.

I suppose if I cared, I’d write less and socialize more.

Instead, I write more.

A neighbor—a friend I now see roughly monthly instead of weekly, since I stopped attending our regular Friday night dinners—asked what kind of social life I have.

Church activities and writers groups. Occasionally conferences. Facebook. That’s about it.

I don’t hang out in coffee shops, except for business meetings. I don’t go to the movies. I only have dinner with the neighbors on special occasions.

And I like it that way.

Yes, that means most of my friendships are probably shallow. But you know something? In the last six months, I finished a novel, wrote a novella, and wrote a nonfiction book. I’m not trading that for hanging out at the bar with my neighbors.

What do you think? Do your friendships suffer because of your writing? Or the other way around?

About Kristen Stieffel

Kristen Stieffel is a writer and freelance editor specializing in speculative fiction. She's a member of the Editorial Freelancers Association, Christian Editor Connection, and American Christian Fiction Writers.

13 comments on “Do writers have friends?

  1. I’ve always been more of an introvert with only a few close friends anyway, so writing really hasn’t changed that…

    Most of my friends are on Facebook… so they might not even be real 😉

  2. I married my best friend, can count close friends on one hand, and family is either far enough away or so busy with their own lives that I don’t see them often. We mostly stay in touch via phone or FB.
    But, I’ve also been a life-long introvert. Writing has actually connected me with more people, albeit remotely.

  3. I would say my friendships suffer for a number of reasons, and writing is just one small part: living rural (i.e. not in a neighborhood), being introverted, homeschooling, being self-employed, and writing. I can’t get anything done when I have a social life, and I find that many people don’t respect self-employed people’s time. I can’t just drop everything at the spur of the moment to do something with friends. I’m perfectly happy to make dates w/ people, but it’s going to be hit and miss if someone calls me spontaneously to do something.

  4. Heh, same boat, here. Mine are all online. I’m terrible at keeping in touch with people, otherwise. Right now I’m writing a story for the kids, who beg for more every night before bed, so I’m writing tons and tons every day.

  5. I only have a few close friends, but I do insist on putting them before writing. I’ll always be able to write, but I won’t always be able to spend time with that person. There’s a proverb in Maori that I love: He aha te mea nui o te ao – He tangata, he tangata, he tangata. What is the most important thing in the world? It is people, it is people, it is people. And my writing very much springs from that.

  6. I’ve always had introvert tendencies, but only since I’ve been forced in a less socially connected way of life by my chemical sensitivities have I learned to write well. My art has also gone so many more places…

    Sadly, I can number my local friends on one hand (all of three), and of them, only one is becoming a close friend.

    But, when I realized I had to have a Facebook account and other social media accounts to connect with other writers and my target audience for my art and writing, my social circle expanded dramatically!

    I now have so many more friends–even close friends–than I did when I was well. But most of them don’t live anywhere near me.

    I suppose here’s where I confess that my writing isn’t getting done as quickly as I’d like because of that (and because I keep creating art instead of writing), but–I’m happy, I’m glad to have relationships with so many people, and I do keep on writing. More will be published eventually.

    I still really, really wish I had a church family. I regret that I don’t.

  7. Of course, writers do have friends. Sometimes they even write the story of their friendship.

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