Monday, October 18, 2010

Panel Discussion - How Do You Handle Pesky Interruptions?

Authors use all kinds of ways to carve out some private time to write.  How do you handle pesky interruptions when you're "in your zone" writing?

Consuelo Saah Baehr:
In the Paris Review interviews, it was always interesting to learn how writers structured their writing time.  Most of us have heard that Hemingway always rose at 6 a.m. and wrote standing up, in longhand, until he had fulfilled a certain number of words.  Probably no one would ever interrupt Hemingway, but for most of us who are wives, mothers, friends, etc, interruptions are inevitable. There is no sure way to take up the exact thread of true concentration once it has been broken. However, it is not productive to imbue “the zone” with so much power that we despair if we are interrupted. The mind reacts to our emotional commands. My advice is don’t send the command that interruptions will ruin your “zone.”  Often, it’s not the interruption, but the annoyance we feel that ruins the moment. Be matter of fact about interruptions. Keep reinforcing the message that while you might not get the exact thread back you will get something just as good or better. I wrote four books while my three children ran around tormenting each other. My mind did not receive the message that repetitive screams, shrieks and whining would disturb my train of thought. So, I just wrote.

Camille LaGuire:

I go to Taco Bell. I know, I know! But I'm serious. When I was a student many, many years ago, I had a long gap in my day and couldn't go home. Taco Bell was the first fast food restaurant in our area to offer free refills on pop - so I would sit there and write. Now I find that nothing stimulates the creativity like the smell of bad tacos.
Blog: The Daring Novelist,

J.M. Pierce:

Being a husband and father of two with a full time job can make it tricky to find quality writing time. When I'm at home, it NEVER happens while the kids are awake; it's just impossible. At work, I'm lucky in that I have my own office so on the days that I don't have to pick my daughter up from preschool, I can close the door and spend my lunch getting a solid hours worth of writing in. The people at work know that I'm an author so no one bothers me unless it is an emergency. So to answer the question, I completely avoid writing in situations that allow for interruptions.

John Hendricks:
I like to think I'm generally a nice guy, but I know I'm rude when it comes to my writing. I'm not sure I'd recommend rudeness offhand. I think it would look bad. However, it does work. I've perfected holding up my finger in that gesture that signifies very haughtily, "I will be with you in one minute." Most people won't bother persisting to talk to you once they've seen that. Do I like being rude? Not generally. I take no particular pleasure in snubbing people. At the same time, I think it's true that most people are more sociable than writers. Writing at length is a solitary task and it requires focus. People my age were often taught in school to believe sharing is this excellent thing and that anyone who didn't share all they had probably wanted to be a junkie when he or she grew up or, at least, wasn't a very good person. I'm selfish with my time when it comes to my work, but I had to learn to be selfish. If I hadn't, I'd never finish anything and, in the long run, frustration would have made me even more rude. So mild rudeness mitigates future extreme rudeness in my case. Not a bad trade off if you ask me.

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