Tag Archive | frustration


botherI don’t know about the rest of you, but when I’m writing, any interruption bothers me. I’m not one of those people who can zone out, who can just jump back into the story. I firmly believe that what I was attempting to write is gone forever. I mean, yes, I might have the direction I wanted to go, but those words WILL be different now.

I have a little rule (or understood rule) in my house. If the door is shut and I’ve told everyone I’m writing, please don’t come in. All I ask is thirty minutes. Really, I’ll even take twenty. Or, if people say they are leaving the house for an hour, I boot up the story and jump in.

When folks come back twenty minutes later, it’s frustrating. I have to stop what I’m doing. If they just walk into the room to chat, I feel guilty that I’m trying to get some work done and all they want to do is talk. Sometimes they’ll just walk in and use the bathroom or get something. They have no idea why I get frustrated with them, BECAUSE THAT IS AN INTERRUPTION. They quickly leave and say “I won’t bother you again.” What they don’t realize is I’ve already lost. My mind is already onto something else and for me, I’m done.

It happened again this morning. Everyone said they’d be gone for an hour. I finished my coffee and went to write. Within 20 min the family was home and in the bedroom with me. After a few choice “words” on my part, they shut the bedroom door again. Ten minutes later my lovely son walked in to see how I was feeling (yes the door was shut). But I wasn’t feeling well last night and he simply wanted to see if I was ok. Lovely, but now I’m done. I am incapable of finding that zone with two interruptions and now the story has been put aside again and I’m instead writing a blog post, or a tweet, or answering facebook.

I really don’t want to have to leave my house to write. I don’t think that’s fair. I don’t think that it’s my family doesn’t respect my time, but I think they truly believe that it’s not a big deal to pick up where you left off. They can do it, why can’t I? What they don’t realize is that it’s not “my process.” But I don’t want to be angry all the time about this and sometimes I really am.

I’d love to hear how all of you deal with interruptions. Do you leave your house? Do you demand your family leave you alone for set periods of time and what do you do if they don’t honor it? I don’t want to feel that “guilt” that I’m writing and they wish to speak to me. Or play with me, or just talk.


And for those interested… I’m trying to work on Book #3 of the Kelsey Porter Series. If you’re as frustrated as I am that it’s not coming along faster, well, now you know why!

Dealing with Frustration – The Ups and Downs of Writing

frustrationI liken being a writer to being on a see-saw. One moment you’re at the top of the world and the next you’re crawling in the dirt. What do I mean by this? If an agent requests a partial read of my novel, I’m ecstatic. If I get a rejection letter, I’m crushed. If I get a great review, I’m over the moon. If I get a bad review, I’m back in the dirt, devastated.

Being a writer is a life of ups and downs. The trick with most people seems to be trying to find a way to manage the frustrations that come along with it. For me, when I get a rejection letter from an agent, I try to answer it with TWO new queries. If I get a bad review, well, I usually email all my tight writing friends and whine and they make me feel better. I’ve also found a boatload of sushi and some dark chocolate seems to help when things are very bleak.

But frustration doesn’t always come from reviews and query replies. It can also come from within ourselves. For me it’s the moment where I’m staring at the screen, 250+ pages into a book, at the climatic ending and I’m like a deer in the headlights. “OMG, WHAT IS SUPPOSED TO HAPPEN NEXT?” or “OMG, WHAT I WROTE IS SO BORING!” It’s those moments where you wonder, “what in the world am I going to do?” I usually close the novel at that point, feeling like I’m the worst writer in the world (man, we are so hard on ourselves, aren’t we?) But then, that’s when my “aha” moments happen. I tend to dwell on the book for awhile (maybe a day, a week). I think about it when I’m commuting, when I’m in the shower, when I’m about to fall asleep… and then WHAM! You get that moment when you suddenly see your story go on a tangent you never thought possible and you give yourself “permission” to go there.

So I asked some other writers what they do to deal with frustration.  Then I asked them about their own “aha” moments. First I spoke with author Gwen Choate who has been writing for 70 years (yes, I said 70) – she is my idol, 90 years “young” and just published her YA Novel, THE SACK (although she’s been writing successfully since her 20’s – I should have used her for my persistence blog last week). I also asked author Frank Tuttle whose YA book ALL THE PATHS OF SHADOW consumed my 11 year old Aspie son who was so compelled by the ideas in this book enough to make drawings for the novel and begged me to send them  to Frank. (who by the way, graciously put them on his book’s FB page)

Question #1) Do you ever get frustrated?

Gwen Choate: All the time. For most of us, the writer’s life is a mix of joys and disappointments. The thing that is most helpful for me is my morning “quiet time,” when I journal and meditate.

Q #2) Have you ever had an “aha” moment?

Gwen: Yes, often.  For example, if I’m blocked by a problem, I like to say before I go to sleep at night, “Please tell me what to do about this.” It’s amazing how often my subconscious comes through and I get an “Aha” the next morning.

Q #1) Do you ever get frustrated?

Frank Tuttle: Frustrated is my default ground state. Why am I not rich? Why am I not famous? Why am I not appearing on late night talk shows? As to how I handle this frustration, see also grain alcohol, consumption of. (very funny, Frank)

Q #2) Have you ever had an “aha” moment?

Frank: Yes. They usually involve the Mississippi Highway Patrol and radar-assisted speed traps. But you wanted writing related discussion, so I’ll say this: All good narratives can be boiled down to a simple formula. A character, in a setting, facing a problem. It’s really that simple. It’s not *easy* but it is simple.

Well said, Frank. I believe our own frustrations can also be boiled down to a simple formula. “Our book”, “other’s perceptions of our books”, and “our reactions.” Well, maybe it’s not that simple. But I believe as writers we need to realize there will be ups and downs, difficulties, good times and bad, but at the end of the day we do this because we love it. We must always remember that. Frustration is just a state of mind – one that we have control over, though at times we may not realize it.

Thank you to Gwen Choate and Frank Tuttle for their time. To learn more about them, please check them out here:

Frank Tuttle writes fantasy to escape his real life exploits as a jet-setting international superspy. You can visit Frank’s webpage at http://www.franktuttle.com/ where you will find links to Frank’s blog, his books, and first-aid tips for exotic pet owners. You can also follow Frank on Twitter www.twitter.com/frank_tuttle

Gwen Choate’s YA novel, THE SACK, was nominated by Texas Librarians for the Star of Texas Award as a best Middle School book. It is available on Amazon at: http://www.amazon.com/The-Sack-ebook/dp/B00CD5VBTO/ref=sr_1_1_bnp_1_kin?ie=UTF8&qid=1371494846&sr=8-1&keywords=the+sack+gwen+choate She can also be reached on Twitter at www.twitter.com/gwenchoate