Saturday, November 07, 2015

NaNoNag #1

Today wraps up the first week of National Novel Writing Month, much of which I actually spent on the road and rubbing shoulders with other creative types while sorting out what we need for the daughter's college transfer. At one point we went on a tour that allowed us to walk through several classrooms filled with working students, and the one thing I noticed nearly all of them had was that lovely determined focus; some didn't even seem to realize a dozen strangers were traipsing through their work space.

I envy that, particular now that I'm back home and dealing with my own distractions. Today we had the annual pre-holiday carpet cleaning, and half my house is in shambles, and everyone is also home and underfoot. I love these people, and I will get my house in order again, but I also need to write. So I've locked myself in the office (for now) and if things don't quiet down later I will pack up the laptop and head over to the library.

I'll do this because I must. Yes, I am mom and housewife and domestic crisis manager, but I'm also a writer. No one else in the family is a writer, and while they say they understand that I can't magically produce two thousand words by snapping my fingers, they actually don't.

It's all in how they measure my work time. It will only take fifteen seconds for them to ask me where they left their car keys, and then two minutes for me to help them look for them. Never mind that the two minutes and fifteen seconds disrupts an entire hour of work, and breaks my concentration, and takes my brain and my bod away from the work. Surely I can put the work aside for an hour to cook a meal for them; they're hungry, and after all I'm just writing. And of course I can always go back and start again once I've fed them or found their misplaced thing or done whatever else they want.

This, after seventeen years of me writing professionally, seems ludicrous -- but it is what they really think, and that is what will never change unless someone else in this family decides to become a pro writer (not holding my breath for that.)

While you're trying to write your NaNo novel you'll probably have something similar happen (if it hasn't already.) It's easy to get flustered and frustrated and even angry with unwanted distractions. Don't let them rattle you or throw you off course. Be patient and explain -- one time -- that you're working. Ask for their support. If they can't respect that, or they are unable or unwilling to support you, pack up your writing and relocate to a place where you can get some work done.

Stay at home parents, I know you can't always pick up and go, so you might have to resort to the alternative of waiting until they're at school or down for a nap or the night. Or you may have to get a sitter, or just write in ten- and fifteen-minute snatches while they're quiet. With two in diapers I penned my first published book during half-hour writing sessions at their nap time and one hour after they were in bed, so believe me, I understand.

Part of the reason writing is hard work is that sometimes it's hard to work. Keep your focus on what you can do, and let go of what you can't. Create new opportunities to write: give up television, get up an hour earlier, write during your lunch hour, etc. Hang on to your focus, and your determination. You can't snap your fingers and make that two thousand words appear out of thin air, but you can find the time and chance to write them in peace.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous8:31 PM

    I'm lucky to have very few distractions this month and yet even I find it hard to keep my butt in chair and type. I can't imagine what it would be like to have actual humans around me this month.

    Ron B