Saturday, June 15, 2024

Gathering around a Campfire of Writers

The difference between aloneness and loneliness

From Brownie to Senior First Class, my years as a Girl Scout enriched my life and helped me grow in so many ways. I loved our sense of camaraderie as we sat around a campfire sharing spooky stories. Laughing with new friends, learning new skills, teaching others mine, Girl Scouts expanded my world.

As ‘grown-ups’ working at home on our latest manuscripts, we need to be alone. We ponder, we stare out a window, we write a scene, then sneak off to toss another load of laundry into the dryer. Writing encourages us to hide away, to be alone.

When I Googled the word ‘aloneness’, the word ‘loneliness’ popped up next to it. Aloneness is defined as a good thing. It means you choose to be alone and enjoy it. Often we feel happy and panicked about our writing at the same time.

In my journey to getting my first book in the Chesapeake Bay Mystery Series written, an agent obtained, a publisher’s contract signed, loneliness crept in. I was cautious about telling corporate coworkers my aspirations. It was easy to fall into the loneliness trap. Loneliness is rarely a good feeling. Loneliness is the feeling most of us have when we want to connect with someone and no one is around to connect with. I always enjoy meeting people and I know interactions in different settings helps my writing. Opportunities to observe new settings and types of people adds depth and interest to my books. After all, mysteries are about internal and external thoughts, differences, and conflicts.

About five years ago, I joined my local Chesapeake ‘Chessie’ Chapter of Sisters in Crime. A year later, I joined the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of Mystery Writers of America. Oh, how I wish I’d met these organizations sooner!

Our Chessie Chapter holds a Zoom meeting an hour each day. Faces change from one day to another because of other commitments. It’s flexible and helps us get to know other authors, discuss projects, webinars, successes and failures.

Writing groups remind me of the smell of a campfire, the burned tongue from smores, the laughter from silly jokes. They remind me to recognize the difference between aloneness and loneliness.

Do you have your own campfire blazing? I’d love to hear how it helps you write. 

Judy L Murray is the award-winning author of the Chesapeake Bay Mystery Series. Find her at


  1. I treasure my alone time and have to sometimes remind myself to engage with others so I do not succumb to self-imposed loneliness caused by my need for aloneness.

  2. I could easily become a hermit. My Sisters in Crime chapter and my Pennwriters get-togethers force me to come out of my writing cave and interact with others.

  3. I treasure my writer friendships. Everyone is so generous with their time and advice. (And I had so much fun on our panel at Malice!)

  4. The remnants of my pre-pandemic critique group is coming to my retirement community for lunch today. We will chose among six meal venues, based on today's "specials" and which has the best salad bar, find a table in a corner (or outside on a terrace,) pull out our latest work, and immerse ourselves in our writing.
    Community is important.

  5. Debra H. GoldsteinJune 15, 2024 at 10:20 AM

    Because I am by nature shy, I had to learn to force myself to engage with others. Writing gives me an excuse to be my isolationist self, but I deliberately make an effort to connect with other writers and non-writers (friends and family) during the week to avoid either perpetual aloneness or allowing loneliness to creep in.