No, I’m not Just Typing… I’m Writing.

closedDo any of you have this issue? You go to your bedroom, den, small corner of the house to write and mere minutes later someone is next to you pulling on your leg, asking you to help them with something, or simply standing there to randomly chat about something mundane? This is my writing life. I have done nothing the past month but beg and plead with my family for personal space and I simply can not get it. And frankly, I don’t think it’s fair that the only way for me to get it, is to leave the house.

The usual intrusion is when I am in my bedroom with the door shut and the family knows just fifteen minutes before I went inside to write. It is usually at this point someone walks into my room “to get something in a drawer” or “just use the bathroom” (uh, there are two others in the house) or “just to ask a quick question” that they already know the answer to. And then, they have the gall to get mad at me when I get mad at them for intruding. They really think “it’s no big deal – come on, you can just start again when I leave!”

I won’t lie – I’m starting to go postal when this happens. I get this intense frustration that no one respects what I’m doing in the least. The fact is, maybe they really don’t get it. Is what we’re doing just too intangible for them to comprehend? Do they think all we do is sit at a computer and make up stuff? Do they think it’s not hard? I’ve tried to explain that every single time I’m interrupted, for whatever reason, I’ve irrevocably lost that particular train of thought that I was striving for. I tried to explain it this way:

Let’s say you’re watching a football game for two hours straight and I walk in front of the television screen RIGHT at the crucial moment the field goal kicker, with zero seconds left to the game, is attempting to make the final winning kick. I blocked your view and you completely missed the kick and what happened. That adrenaline rush you had is GONE. Does that mean you can’t rewind the tape/moment and watch it again? Of course it does, but that feeling you had has disappeared, never to be recovered.

It’s like that for authors, but worse. We are not just typing, we are writing and it’s absolutely destructive to us when you interrupt. The “infinite” number of outcomes that could have happened, had we not been interrupted, is GONE. NEVER, EVER, EVER to be reclaimed the same way again. The difference between us and a taped sports game though is this: That game, no matter how many times you rewind and replay the tape, that game will ALWAYS have the same ending. BUT, when you interrupt a writer, that outcome becomes an impossibility. You will never have the same outcome you would have had moments before.

One of my very good author friends said it this way: “We have to enter something called ‘headspace.’ We have to call up our fictional worlds and enter them. That’s not a trivial task. It takes effort, and time, and when the process is interrupted, it must be restarted.” Not to mention coming down from the sheer frustration and anger we have to then calm down enough to start writing again.

My husband came in yesterday with a sign he purchased from a store. One of those big, red, restaurant/store signs that say “Come in, we’re open” on one side and “Sorry, we’re closed” on the other. He wants me to tape it to the door every time I’m writing so they physically know to stay away.

I guess a verbal declaration and a closed door is not enough – we need a sign, too. But hey, I’ll give it a try. Oh, it’s been fifteen minutes… is that a knock on the door?

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28 thoughts on “No, I’m not Just Typing… I’m Writing.

  1. I have full respect when I write. Everyone know to leave me be when I tell them that I’m going to write for a while. You better lay down the law before you’re driven insane. If that happened to me, I would be pissed off, too. You may need to sit down your people and explain to them the importance of what you’re doing and how it effects both your life and theirs. Also, as it may already be implied, leave the passive-aggressive arguing and fighting for the children when you explain what you’re doing. Be calm, don’t worry and do what you do.

  2. I hear you. Part of my solution is to write early in the morning. But I also am creating a room of my own (doesn’t every one need one?) in my son’s bedroom/guest room.

    I also thought I needed to get out of the house to write, and some of my best short stories and memoir pieces have started in public places where I was less likely to be interrupted. Unfortunately, when I am in the writing zone, it is dangerous for me to drive. I find that I have driven farther than I expected. So I really need to stay home. When I was a college student in my 40s, I at least could say, you can’t interrupt me, this is due at 8:00 tomorrow morning. Sort of hard with writing.

    • Yes, when you have something tangible like “my paper is due at 8:00” they can understand that… but a book, to be published uh…. when? So hard. Glad you find the time to write and a solution that works for you.

    • Silence is so golden for me too. I’m going back to work soon and taking my computer with me – for an hour straight I find someplace to write and no one bothers me – seems to be the only way. Thanks so much for responding.

  3. I’m lucky that my husband knows to ‘leave me in peace’ when I’m writing, but that doesn’t stop the phone from ringing or someone knocking on the door lol. For the most part it’s okay, only I do become distracted having to help so many others…must do better ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Perhaps some writer’s families need a New Year’s resolution like: I promise to let her/him write in peace.
    Despite this hope, I am desperately hoping to find an invisibility cloak. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  5. Maybe a taste of their own medicine? Let them know you are going to do this – for every time you do not meet my need, I am going to refrain from helping you when you need me later… Pose it as such: “When I need you, I need you… and here, I need for you to give me peace and let me be for ____ number of minutes, hours, etc…” Then look for opportunities when they need you, and you blatantly do not meet that need… and use it as a lesson… ?? Obviously you must meet certain needs as their mother, but perhaps the outing to the city or the fun thing you were going to drive for – which involved friends, etc… – these are hard things to do, but very effective. As for your husband, well we all know the things hubbies and wives can do… HAHA

  6. I remember those days. My children are all grown and I no longer have to contend with those interruptions but I have to say sometimes I miss them. Enjoy the moments while you can, they will soon be grown and gone!

  7. Like Tara, my kids are grown and gone, but my wife, God love her, still finds the most inopportune moments to call me for help. BUT, when the kids were home, I’d work on a scene, have a great idea, be interrupted and VOILA! It was gone, never to see light of day again. When I worked, I had a 1 hr commute by train to the office. In the morning I would read a few pages of my WIP, fall asleep and dream the scenes to happen. Some were wonderful. I only had to walk out of the train station, cross a street, enter my office building, go up 3 floors, down a corridor, around a corner and into my office. I could sit at my computer and … DAMN! Try to remember that great sequence I’d dreamed. THAT’s when I learned to carry a small recorder. As I hustled away from the train, I dictated the sequence. Hmm? Maybe I should get voice recognition software so I could dictate my sentence rather than stopping my typing. Of course, more than likely it would read something like…he edged closer to the … WHAT DO YOU WANT? Then again, maybe it won’t work.

  8. Preach it, sister!

    One day I’m to market a line of Writer’s Robots that stand by our doors while we work, glowering and idly smacking a solid length of oak against their implacable metal palms. Anyone approaching has to be admitted by the Robot, and here’s a trade secret — unless the house is on fire or someone is bleeding uncontrollably, NO ONE GETS PAST. It can’t wait a half hour?

    ROBOT SAYS IT CAN.

    Oh, and the Robots will be Amazon Prime eligible!

  9. I’ve been blessed with fairly uninterrupted writing/editing time, except when my cat decides its treat time and I need to drop everything. I haven’t figured out how to make her understand I need just ten more minutes ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. When mine were young, I set up a writing place in our travel trailer that was parked in the yard and wouldn’t you know, the KIDS came banging on the door. One of them was Miss itsrebekahlyn! It is frustrating but remember, Abraham Lincoln wrote the Gettysburg address on the back of an envelope on the train, but then he had secret service to run interference.

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