What happens to your mood if you shut yourself away to write a book?

Thankfully I wasn’t at Stanford University in 1989 when many of its buildings were severely damaged during what became known as the Loma Prieta Earthquake.

Among the badly affected premises was the West Wing of Green library, where I’m writing this now, and also where I shut myself away for a couple of months last summer to write “Nudge Your Way to Happiness”.

I spent that time in the wonderfully-named “Gentleperson’s Reading Room” (below), a calm space in which it proved pleasingly easy to focus and be productive.


Interestingly, I was tracking my own well-being through this period, and looking back at my graph I see that although I wasn’t doing badly, I wasn’t exactly soaring either.

With the benefit of hindsight I think I was probably suffering from a lack of social connections, a problem that resolved itself once I finished writing and began getting together with friends again.

Ernest Hemingway grumbled, “Writing, at its best, is a lonely life.” Who are we to disagree?

In last summer’s case it was an overly focused approach to work that left me feeling isolated, but at other times during my life I’ve seen the same effect arising from having a low mood, and maybe you recognise this in yourself?

You feel rough so you shut yourself away, perhaps even blindly self-explaining it by imagining you’re actually “saving” others from having to be around your glumness.

Of course, the honest truth is that staying at home alone could leave you feeling even worse than you already were.

Our connections with others are vital, as we’re designed as social animals and fail to thrive when we have insufficient contact with others.

Perhaps it will be worth remembering this as you go about the next 24 hours.

Why not look for opportunities, even miniscule ones, to connect with people?

By the way, many Moodnudges readers did just that with me on Wednesday, voting for a cover for “Nudge Your Way to Happiness”.

Thanks to all who told me what they thought.

I’ll let you know the outcome on Sunday, so see you in a couple of days.

3 thoughts on “What happens to your mood if you shut yourself away to write a book?

  1. Jon whilst I agree with you, shutting oneself away is not good (when depression strikes) I do find if I go out on the bus or in company etc. I hone in on conversations and beat myself up because of something someone has said. For example sitting on a bus as I live in a town made up of 65% of the population over 65 (me included) there always seems to be someone behind me talking about illness or a death, now when I’m feeling ok I can cope, or my mind is on other things, or maybe do Mindfulness, but do not do those things when I’m down, it gnaws away at me. Reason being I’m terrified of losing my husband (he’s not ill) but both of his parents died of sudden heart attacks.
    I have lots of books, been to courses on Mindfulness, CBT, Hypnotherapy etc. been in hospital seen Psychologists etc. as my husband says “I’ve all the gear but no idea when depression strikes. He tries to make light of it for me. Been on very high doses medication, but took myself off gradually (the doctor didn’t approve) because it didn’t stop me going down so what was medication really doing. I’ve been to Mind see people who are like Zombies (drugged up).
    Most courses are for 6 weeks, how can anyone in that time be cured of something that has been festering for 70 odd years.
    I expect you know of Ruby Wax she has done a degree course in Mindfulness, ” it’s the best thing since sliced bread, she is doing 6 week courses, now the Tebitan monks have been practising Mindfulness for thousands of years. Her husband is very good looks after her etc. she books herself in The Priory when she is very down, honestly I do get annoyed at these so called celebs who write articles and make good money, when a lot of people live alone and cannot afford anything to help their agony.
    OO sorry I’ve gone on a bit.
    Keep up the good work, look forward to “Nudge your way to happiness”
    Bye for now from Sidmouth (sun is up there somewhere)

  2. You are so right Jon-I have to watch myself as most of the time I’m content in my own company but if I don’t get out & interact with people I know my mood takes a dive.

    I experience a double whammy as some days I’m too physically unwell to go out but then really value my digital connections-usually on Twitter-as there’s always somewhere there to have a virtual conversation with.

  3. Yup, I don’t do so well when I go long periods with no social contact. And as with Christine above, I also love Twitter for being able to have virtual convos. Even small interactions at the grocery store or bank are helpful for me. And there always the phone- one great, long conversation with a good friend can sustain me for a few days.

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