“If I just had a little excitement in my life—if you know what I mean—I’d get some inspiration,” said Anna.
I stared at my wine and swirled it around the bottom of my glass. I played dumb.
“No, I don’t know what you mean. What exactly do you mean by excitement? Jumping off skyscrapers with a parachute?”
I smirked and rolled my eyes. We’ve been friends for years, and I couldn’t fool her.
“Do you know how long it’s been?”
“Yeah. Something like 410 days since you broke up with what’s-his-name.”
“Longer than that. You’re forgetting the months before I broke up with him.”
“You’ll live,” I said.
Anna (not her real name) is a busy freelance writer who hopes to crack open the novel hidden inside of her and share it with the world. She’s taking advantage of NaNoWriMo and wants to get the bulk of it written in one month.
But she doesn’t have a plan, and she was in a panic when she called me. And I’m not so sure what I’m writing either, so we got together to brainstorm.
She thinks a hot dude is the spark she needs to light her creative fire.
With a flourish of my hand, I invited her to check out the guys at the bar.
“Take your pick, honey. I’m sure at least a few are willing and able.”
With perfect timing, our food arrived in the strong, well-groomed hands of an attractive waiter. I raised an eyebrow and stared at her.
“Speaking of which. . . .”
I smiled at him and winked. She blushed and kicked me. I leaned across the table and whispered.
“Look. Even if you were already involved with someone, how would that help you write? It would be a massive time suckage—guaranteed.
She giggled. I snorted.
“Let’s get serious here.”
I pulled out a pen and grabbed a napkin.
“It’s too late, for NaNoWriMo anyway, to get into that dreamy relationship floating around in your head. Why not think about the positives of being single instead of complaining about your non-existent sex life?”
“Positives? Yeah, right.” Anna sighed. She’d read Bridget Jones’s Diary way too many times.
“It could be worse. You could be a smug married, have crap for a sex life, and argue all the time.”
By the time we finished our dessert and three alcohol units each, we agreed: as singletons, we’ve got it made as writers no matter what kind of writing we’re doing.
Here are 10 ways a lousy sex life can be great for your writing life:
1. You own your time.
It’s all yours. Write until 4am if you want. Sleep all day or go to your day job looking like hell. Who cares?
Have kids? They’re more amenable to a schedule than a grown-up; after all, you’re the boss. And it’s just easier to set your time for writing and stick to it when you don’t have a romantic relationship.
2. You can write anything you want without restraint.
You don’t have to worry whether Mr. or Ms. Hot Stuff will like your response when they ask, “So what are you writing today?”
And you don’t have to worry whether your lover will sneak up behind you and look at your computer screen.
3. You don’t need birth control.
That applies to guys, too. I mean, it’s obvious. If you don’t have a sex life, you don’t have to worry about a bundle of joy arriving when you least expect it. Plus, it’s one less thing to think about (or spend time and money on) so you can focus on your writing.
4. You don’t have to worry about safer sex.
No sex life, no worries. No decisions about when and whether sex is safe without the condom, should you trust him or her, where to go for testing, will he (or she) get tested, and all that. Of course this doesn’t apply if you’re both virgins.
Who has time for that stuff when you have a novel (or blog posts and anything else) to write?
5. You’re not on a constant hormone-driven high that makes you lose concentration.
The high-as-a-kite early stages of a romantic relationship are great, right? But even if everything is perfect, it’s still an enormous distraction. Who can write with all those endorphins floating around in their system?
Even if you’re not with him or her, you’ll be thinking of last night instead of your writing. Or the night before. Or last weekend and how this weekend will be. . . .
6. You don’t have to brush your hair, shower, or even get dressed when you’re busy writing.
Whether you work in a home office or do your writing after your day job and on the weekends, personal grooming is optional when you don’t have a sex life. Just stick to the basics: wash face, brush teeth, pin or tie your hair back and you’re good to go.
Your dog, cat, or goldfish won’t care, trust me. But your lover might, especially if you work in short shorts and a tank top sans bra. Why, you won’t get anything done!
7. You don’t have to get dressed up for dates.
You don’t have to go on dates, either. Or get dressed at all. Just look at all the time that frees up for writing! Not to mention your clothing budget or all those hours experimenting with make-up or wondering what your ass looks like in those jeans.
8. You don’t have to change the sheets or even make the bed.
As a singleton, if you shower before bed, you don’t have to change the sheets more than once a month. If that. What for? You have to write! I slept in a sleeping bag for three months one summer—without washing it—and I didn’t die or get sleepingbag-itis or anything.
If you’re in a relationship, it’s a different ball game. Hopefully.
9. No sex life means no lovey-dovey emails, texting, phone calls, or other distractions.
Even if, like me, you don’t make a habit of texting or chit-chatty phone calls, that will change when you’re under the lovey-dovey hormone influence. Trust me. I’ve done stranger things.
Who wouldn’t love to send (and receive) unexpected titillating texts or emails? Have chats in the middle of the day—or night? You’re in love! OK lust at first but, unless you’re extraordinarily rigid with your schedule, you’re going to get distracted.
And if you’re so rigid you don’t get distracted when you’ve got a great sex life going on, well, good luck with that.
10. No sex life means you can put all that extra energy into your writing.
And running. And workouts. And biking. And whatever else. You’ve got time and energy to spare. Use it wisely. Write!
Anna and I both agreed that if you’re really young, and you haven’t ever had a serious relationship or a sex life, well, that might give you some experience your writing needs.
But if you’re a little older like we are—as in been there, done that—choosing to be single can be great for your writing life.
And the choice we’re talking about also means we’re not actively seeking a relationship and we’re not crying the blues.
What! Single women not looking for a man? Blasphemy! Something must be wrong with you. You must have been hurt beyond repair. You must be bitter and angry.
Ah yes, the neighbors, your friends, and your family will talk. But no, none of the above. And screw ‘em. It’s your life. The time will come when a relationship and a glorious sex life is exactly what’s going to happen.
Meanwhile, you’ve got work to do, writer. Do it.
Got something to say? Agree? Disagree? Comments are always welcome.
It’s a two way street and sex never made a successful relationship in my male life as I usually had to face the reality that all I liked about the person was the sex. There’s a line that I keep in my mind that I think is important.
“Before one can learn to live with, one must learn to live without.” Actually after enough failures in relating in relationships even with a great sex life I woke up to the fact this is my life given to me to live and I’m a total fool if I don’t take the opportunity to live it my way. With that in mind I came up with a definition of ‘love’ for myself. I consider ‘love’ to becoming the best me I can be and sharing that me in a responsible and accountable manner. So maybe in the past I shared my body with others but that was all that was shared and the responsible and accountable part was never part of the agenda.
Whether it’s writing or whatever a person loves to do that ought to become first in their life with the full understanding that life is shared with others. I think we reap what we sow and the more one makes out of them self the more they have to share with others. The less one makes out of them self the less they have to share with others. So to me those I’ve been involved with pretty much showed me a reflection of myself with only having sex to share and not much more then that.
It’s kind of like ‘life’ is perfect just the way it comes to us even though it sure gets rough to deal with a lot.
Good points here Ken: “Whether it’s writing or whatever a person loves to do that ought to become first in their life with the full understanding that life is shared with others. I think we reap what we sow and the more one makes out of them self the more they have to share with others.” This and everything else your wrote made me think of how we can’t depend on others for the inspiration we want. That has to come from within, and that’s what my friend and I were talking about. If the creative spark isn’t there in the first place, how can we expect someone else to fire it up, especially considering all the distractions? If we “sow” a need like that, what will we reap?
Thanks for sharing!
The creative spark was in both you and your friend in the first place but for lack of a better way of putting it your friend expressed being horny could be motivation to be creative in your minds. As you expressed your friend could have easily found someone to help her out but your minds seem to question that as a solution. So the reality is the challenge is seeking something different. Looking for an answer becomes creative.
Now as you both are writers how about considering you both are artists who are into sharing the way you see things with others with what you write. Surely there are many others who have the same feelings you both have about what you wrote here. Somewhere in your future writing this will fit in and both of you can think back to what you went through at this time. To me it boils down to appreciating my own life and using more caution with who I get involved with, not only sexually but every part of my life. Being creative overrides everything as it becomes a utopia that flows like a river with ideas and an occasional peek at the hell rest of the world dwells in, makes this kind of mindset heaven.
In my own life I felt I was a failure at relationships so I compared that to being a failure at sports also. So being a failure one can either make a choice of wanting to put the effort into succeeding or give it up. I don’t participate in sports but sure succeeded in other areas in life so there was no reason to drive myself crazy trying to be successful at getting along with others just to be in a relationship. To me if I’m the only one who can get along with myself I can handle that just fine and be perfectly happy with that. But truthfully I’ll bet I attract more people into my life this way then I did before I woke up to the fact that I’ve got myself on my side in life and don’t have a desperate need for anyone else. Simply put fall in love with yourself first and the rest of the world will follow!
Leah, you have hit the nail on the head with this one. Being in a “relationship” sucks up so much energy, being the person who your significant other expects you to be, and putting their priorities first, while they feel that your writing is a hobby, just something that keeps you out of trouble, and you are expected to be all and everything to the significant other, give support, encourage, be there for them, until finally you feel your writing is just a hobby, as they do not encourage you or return the ‘back-up” and space you need to be as creative as you can be, this I am experiencing at the moment- the above article came exactly when I needed to get this clear, leaving my lover to live with my daughter, who gives me the space and encouragement needed. No pressure to be anything I am not, or cook, servant, sex partner, waiting in the wings for Mr to decide what we will eat, do, when and how. The sex was wonderful, but the urge to write is stronger and in the end more satisfying than any amount of sex. Sublimate your desires to be creative, it works. My urge to write, think, be creative, and plan has come back since I took the decision to live single again. Thank you for your absolute honesty, and great articles.
Hi Tessa, Wow, you’ve described pretty much what I was going through while I was married–kind of-sort of. Of course, in a healthier relationship we would have had more support, seems to me. But no matter what, as writers, we’ve got to do what we’ve got to do, and if we must write, then we must write. Everything else is gravy. Or whipped cream 🙂 And if the people we care about won’t support us and what’s important to us (even if just emotional support and caring), well then they don’t care about us or at least not in the way we need. End of story. So happy to hear you’re in the right place now! Great that your daughter gets it.
Here’s something else: you know how you’re supposed to put your oxygen mask on first if there’s trouble on an airplane? Yep–we have to take care of ourselves first. It’s not selfish. It’s how it is. We have to do what we have to do for us, then others. I had to learn the hard way as it seems you did. Thanks so much for stopping by and taking time to comment!