A Tip on Getting Back into Writing

There’s something about any creative profession, especially when done from home, that let’s those around us think that they can interrupt us whenever they see fit. I’m trying to understand it better myself in hopes to figure out how to head it off at the pass. 

You’ll be in the middle of a scene, words flowing smooth like honey, a steady stream of golden excellence when all of a sudden, “Did you hear me?”

You shake your head, as though hearing things. “What?”

“I asked if you’d . . . .” And it really doesn’t matter what comes next, it can be anything. The problem is when we turn back from this conversation and look at the screen again, we find that train of thought thoroughly smashed into the side of a mountain (did I just mix metaphors?) Oh the carnage.

It’s at this point that we sigh, look at our taskbar and think, “Might as well check my email.”

Our loved ones don’t understand why we get so cranky with these distractions. They think it some flaw in our artistic nature that makes us volatile. But in all honesty, if you were to call them at work every five minutes to ask what they wanted for dinner, then to tell them about an interesting story you saw on the net about a woman who saw Jesus in a tub of Crisco, then to ask what they were doing that weekend, then to ask if they could hold the baby, then to ask if, . . . they would go nuts and start screaming their bloody heads off. “I’m at work. You can’t call me every five minutes. It’ll have to wait until I get home.”

But we aren’t at work, are we? We’re already at home. If we’re not getting paid for what we’re writing it adds another complication because no one sees potential profit as pay, they see it as a hobby, and frankly, it is. It remains a hobby until we turn it into a business. So in that respect we have to learn to shoulder some of the irritation.

No matter how you try to explain it to them, they either don’t understand, or simply forget. This is why I try to write late into the night when everyone’s asleep. Of course that draws complaints about improper sleeping patterns, but I can put up with that if it means that I can get out a complete thought without it being interrupted. Besides, I also tend to stop on my own when the baby is around. If he comes to the door and hangs out there, “Ba ba ba baaaaa!” (no, he’s not trying to say bottle, he’s breast fed) I’ll often stop what I’m doing to hold him or play with him because I know he’s not going to be doing this for long.  

One of the methods that I’ve come up with for getting back into my writing is to have several documents open at the same time. This very entry came about because of an interruption during my Fatal Flaw post. I was nearly at the end of it when my Step Mum, who was over to take the little guy for the day, came over to the office asking for me to come and give my son a kiss goodbye, then to comment on the progress on the garage again, then to comment about how nice it was outside and how I should get out and get to work, all of which occurred after her telling us about her latest attempt at matchmaking, and talking about my son’s shoes and needing me to find him another shirt despite her knowing where they were and so on and so forth, so that by the time it got to the “come give your son a kiss,” part, I was on my last nerve. When I sat down to finish the post, I had no idea what I had been talking about or where I was going with it. The entire post would have to be reread before I could continue writing.

What I did instead was open a new document and titled it “Interruptions.” As writers we often have several projects going at once. Articles for magazines, short stories, a novel or two, a blog we have to keep up with. If we keep several of those things going at the same time, when we stall out on one, we can jump to another. Once you stall out on that one, switch back to the last one and you just might find that the honey has thawed and is flowing once more.

Life it seems is a grand juggling act. The more things you’ve got in the air the more “oooo”s and “aaaaaah”s you’ll get from your spectators. And you’ll probably make more money too when it comes time to drop something into the hat.

Do you guys and gals have any special restarting habits? What do you do with interruptions? No really. I want to know. Comments in the top right corner of the post.

(Picture snagged from http://www.rubengazki.com/stage/)


Anonymous said...

This is also a very big challenge in my household. Especially because I'm Mom and Mom is naturally a performing three ring circus clown/indentured servant/Dr. Boo-boo kisser.

Of course, I love being a Mom, even if it means interruption to clean up spilled grape juice or bandage a scraped knee. That being said, it doesn't make it any less frustrating sometimes.

The hub is really good about keeping the kids occupied so that I get alone time, however, making my magpies realize that "Mommy is busy right now" is still a hard concept to sell right now.

To answer your question, when I've been interrupted, I decide it's a good time to get up and stretch, maybe drink some coffee and/or have a cigarette on the porch to think. I find that even with having an idea already put to paper, that I need lots of dream time to keep going, so this little process really helps me to refocus my energy.

Lilith Saint Crow blogs more on the topic of interruptions here: http://lilithsaintcrow.livejournal.com/341943.html. I think she has a lot of validity to her point of prioritizing and making the people in your life adhere to them.

Anonymous said...

Darn, that link didn't work.

Here: http://lilithsaintcrow.livejournal.com/341943.html

David Noceti said...

Thanks for that link. You're right, she does make good points. I actually debated including 'priorities' in this post, but I'm working on one about time management right now and thought it better to include it there. All of these issues are so tightly woven together, it's hard to pull out specific things to talk about without getting sucked into talking about everything else associated with it.

Now, the smoking bit. That part we can pull out . . . and get rid of. I mean really Tammi. :)

And now it's time to go. The little boy is amusing himself by banging his head against the wall. Sigh. He's not hurting himself and the look on his face says that he's having a great time, but I think we can find something less damaging to his braincells for him to do.

Mer said...

David, you always provide literary food for thought...I also have a hard time with trying to change up the "Accessible 24X7" persona I've had (& to be truthful, cultivated to some extent) for many, many years. For the primary care-taker of young children, there is no way around it: THEY are the priority. And should be. However, once another adult is available to "take over", it's extremely difficult to amiably convince those adults that a writer now MUST get about the task of writing. And that writing has to be done WITHOUT conversation/interruptions/social pressures.

When one's children are adults, they've often had a life-time to become accustomed to the feeling that Mom/Dad will nearly always immediately switch gears on their behalf. Even the most considerate & thoughtful adult children can have a unconscious sense of entitlement to their parents attention, especially if they've grown up seeing that parent put his/her writing at the end of the priority list. Like a self-fulfilling prophecy.

What was the most extraordinarily conflicted thing for me to embrace was that my writing IS a priority, whether it's for profit OR (gasp!) for pleasure. When I began taking it very seriously, when I allowed them to see that I was feeling interrupted, even a little put upon, things began to change. They began to take my writing time seriously too!! (Now if only my husband could be such a quick learner!)

Thanks, once again, for a thought-provoking post. With this blog, you've single-handedly done more to help me define and clarify my writing process, my writing priorities,& to even help me creatively define what I write than the countless (!!!) writing books I have read and own.

David Noceti said...

Awe. I'm blushing. You're the second person to say that and I must say, I'm not getting tired of hearing it. :)

And how do you think I come up with this stuff? Its all of MY writing books distilled into blog form.

Finally, don't you DARE find enjoyment in your writing. What are you, crazy? :P

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