Monday, July 16, 2012

Writing Prep 5 - Distraction Number One, Husband Interruptus

I wonder if kids still put "Keep Out" signs on their doors. They had a certain vogue in my house when I was growing up after a TV kid displayed one. During one of my teaching gigs, a swarm of female students claimed that the biggest distraction to their writing was the spouse who did not understand that sitting quietly in front of a keyboard did not equal an invitation to chat or an indication that she had idle time in need of a task. (Can you fix me a snack?)

The problem was quickly termed "husband interruptus," and I went to my crack team of writing colleagues for answers. These included:
  • arsenic (but that seems like overkill) 

  • leave the house and go to the library, Panera Bread or Starbucks
lock yourself in the potty
  • rent him a movie he's been wanting to see and then put it on for him
  • headphones
  • give him a notebook with the heading: Things to ask wife in an hour
  • try to fix something" (i.e., with a hammer or crowbar, guaranteed to hurt more than help) and let the super handy hubby get to work (works best with controlling type-A personalities)
I suspect, with slight modifications, these can also help with wife interruptus, children interruptus, roommate interruptus, and pet interruptus.

How do you protect your writing time? How do you keep the people in your life from stealing precious minutes at the keyboard?

1 comment:

  1. (OK, this is long, but it's something I feel very strongly about!) I've trained my husband from a very young age that when I am writing, he needs to go find something else to do ;). In all seriousness, what worked in my house is simple communication and a little planning. My husband and I sat down and talked about our schedules, and how we could fit everything in so that things don't overlap in weird ways. We both have dreams that don't always mesh with our "day jobs" (I'm counting being a homeschooling SN mom as mine). I write, he does music. So we've agreed that at night, when I need to write, he works on his music (or watches Star Trek reruns, or whatever else he wants to do). On weekends, if I need to write, he plays with our son, and when he needs to work on his music, I play with our son. It's just a matter of sitting down and discussing what's important to all members of the family, and being respectful of everyone's needs. And sometimes you need to say things out that seem silly. Like, I had to tell my husband, please don't ask me if I want to watch a movie with you. Of course I'll say yes, I enjoy watching movies with you. But one weekday nights, I CAN'T. One weekend nights, that's when we get our movie time. You can't always assume that your spouse will understand. You have to talk to them and explain it out. And make time for them, too, but schedule it so there is time for everything.

    And if my husband ever came up to me and asked me for a snack, I'd hit him in the head with that hammer and send him packing to his mom...ditto if I had to rent him a movie. I'm pretty sure if a guy is old enough to be married, he is old enough to get himself a snack or know how to occupy himself! Also think of it this way--What would happen if I called my husband at work every two seconds, asking him for a snack, asking him where the ____is, asking him if he wants to go to the mall or whatever? It is no different. When I'm working, I'm WORKING.

    At times, it almost seems to me that some of these "interruptions" are a subconscious form of procrastination on the writer's part. And I'm not being mean, because trust me, I've been there! I know what it's like. But writers need to take control of their writing time. That's their responsibility--no one else can do that for them. It took me a couple years to realize that and make my writing time a reality. But in the end, I realized that if I wanted it done, I had to do it.

    I've thought about doing a workshop on how I handle all this stuff...but I wonder if people will think I'm mean. I'm not--I'm protective. I'm just as protective of my time with my son, my husband, and my pets. Not so much with the housework, though...