We interrupt this writing career to make my husband an egg sandwich, to find my Grandson’s pillow pet, to save a suicidal chicken, to clean up the dogs puke from the middle of the living room, answer an “emergency” text from my daughter and to throw the cat off my keyboard.
I have tried everything to get them to leave me alone. I’ve begged, pleaded, even threatened.
I hung a sign on the back of my chair that reads:
“I AM WRITING!
DO NOT TALK, ASK, BOTHER OR MOLEST. IF YOU LEAVE ME ALONE I WILL MENTION YOU IN MY ACADEMY AWARD SPEECH!”
The molest part is because my husband’s favorite activity is to come at me from behind and take my breasts in his hands. My girlfriends say their husbands do it too.
Is this a trend or an age old right of marital ownership?
But I am a writer. I dream it. I can’t breath if a story is swirling around in my head and I don’t get it down on paper. I explain to my students that it is like having to go the bathroom at the mall. You can’t concentrate on maxing out credit cards when you have to go. All you look for is the one bathroom sign in the three-mile mall instead of the 70% off sale at Neiman Marcus. I have to get my words out.
I am told that the biggest obstacle when you start writing is writers block. I have heard sad stories of brilliant writers staring for hours at the blank page. This has never been a problem for me. Give me five minutes alone, even if it is in the car during a car wash and my pen leaps to life across the page.
As all good teachers will tell you if you want to write and be successful, write what you know. What I know is a house full of to-dos, a husband in midlife crisis, too many not-so-domesticated animals and four businesses to run. If all the distractions go away, will I stop being able to write? I wonder. Try me.
I took an IQ test today. This was my fourth attempt to find 12 minutes of uninterrupted time to test my brainpower. I finally saw an opportunity and explained to my husband that I needed 12 minutes of peace and quite. He made it for five minutes and then started calling every Xerox dealer in the yellow pages seeking an honest repairman for his copy machine. At 8 minutes, he draped himself over my chair and gave “the girls” a squeeze. Even through all this, the test maker said I scored “Gifted”. Right now the only thing I am gifted at is squirreling out some humor from this insane life. On to my stories and advice.
Place. Do you have to be in a certain place to be a writer? I think that other than a quite space that you can be alone to create, great writing can be done anywhere.
If you can’t have a sprawling office, settle for a nook.
Set up a desk or table for your work in a corner of the quietest space in your home. Writing is thinking and if you are married with kids, thinking looks like idol time so………
Erect a visual boundary around your writing space.
People are less likely to interrupt you with questions or demands if they can’t see you. A screen or a curtain can provide some privacy and eliminate visual distractions. Play music on a headset or use earplugs to block out sounds.
Consider working in a coffee shop or restaurant.
You may find that you work best outside of the house. Go in during off-times, after the lunch rush and before dinnertime. Tip well and be courteous, so that you are always welcome.
Rent a writing space.
If you can afford to rent a small office or studio, this is an excellent option.
Use the library.
It’s free and mostly quiet (avoid the Internet area where people tend chat and share). You can write surrounded by prodigious literature or children’s books.
Be creative about finding a writing space.
A lack of space should never be an excuse not to write. Carry a notebook with you or write on your smartphone in the note pad (I use Evernote). Write whenever you get a spare second: waiting for an appointment, at a park at lunch, on public transportation (50 Shades of Gray was written on the subway). You can get much writing done even in short spurts.
You are going to write about a strange, fun or wonderful place that you have visited (either in person or in a book). Describe that place in great detail. Now find a writing space for you to write there every day and tell what the novel will be about.
200-500 words- easy peasy for Friday.