I'm loading the gun; get out of my office!

This post is a cry for help from any other writers out there. I have not been able to do any of my own writing for months because I can’t get any time to do it without endless interruptions.

The worst offender is my wife. We can sit in front of the TV like zombies for as long as we want, but if I get up and head for my home office, she’s suddenly brandishing her list of things that simply must be done. And get this: If I do make it to my desk without being ambushed, she will appear at the door and say, petulantly, “Come spend time with me.” Like my creative urges are some sort of affront to her.

Short of becoming one of those unpleasant writers who snarl at anyone who pokes their head in the office door, what can I do to carve out time to write? I don’t want to be a bastard, but I can FEEL my creative juices drying up. Please help me.

Live a Lush Life
Da Chef

I seem to remember reading that S.J. Perelman rented a little office away from his home for that very reason. He made sure it was as plain and boring as possible (no window, uninteresting neighborhood, etc.) I don’t know if you could afford to do something like that.

A woman I know who does some writing will occasionally get in her family’s little camper with her laptop and drive off somewhere to be alone (she has 7 kids and 13 grandchildren). If you aren’t tied to your computer, maybe you could trying writing in a cafe or something. Campus libraries are also a good bet.

Or maybe you could get your wife a hobby? :slight_smile:

I’ve wound up staying up late at night, and then napping in the evening or going without sleep at all. I’m in almost exactly the same situation as Chef, and I don’t handle distractions well at all. A simple, “Hey, come in here and see this” can throw me off a task for hours.

Your wife needs a hobby (besides you). You need to make it clear that when you’re working, you CAN’T be disturbed. My husband and I have been through this with his music writing. I now know that the time that he’s writing is DO NOT DISTURB, no matter what. But he lets me know in advance when he’s going to be writing so I can go see a movie or whatever. She sounds a little jealous of the time you have carved out for writing and maybe wishes you would carve out a little time “specifically for her”. So maybe a little scheduling is all that’s needed.

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I just read over my OP and realized that it puts my wife in a more negative light than I intended. To be fair, our schedules are so split up that we don’t get to spend much time together. I suppose she has some justification for being jealous of the time I spend alone in my office.

Part of the problem is that I relish solitude and get none of it except late at night; she has a fair amount of solitude (works retail, has at least one weekday off) and doesn’t appreciate it. She doesn’t really grok my need to be by myself.

Okay, you say, then just do your writing late at night. Well, I find the quality of my writing goes way down after about 11 pm. I start to get sleepy and either doze at my desk or write stuff that has to be tossed and/or rewritten later, in which case I might as well not have written it at all.

Obviously, I need to designate a block of time every night for writing and not allow anything to impinge on it. What I can’t figure out is, how do I insist on this without hurting anyone’s feelings (she’s very thin-skinned)? It doesn’t seem possible. I don’t want to be an asshole about it but I can’t figure out how else to make my point.

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Da Chef

Just a thought–does she feel like you’re going “to” your writing, or “away” from her. Maybe if you schedule a block of time every evening, you could make it every evening but one, and schedule that one for her, and let her know that one is just as inviolable. As I said, just a thought.

Chef Troy, I know how you feel. A big problem that I had was going to write something that I had just thought of. That’s how the muse works with me. I have a hard time scheduling writing time. Once i get there, I have writers block. Then I started making notes whenever I got the inspiration. That helped a lot. Then I decided to try to write in the morning. Wow! It was great. Not only was no one up to bother me, but it seemed like I was full of creativity that I had never known late at night. Everything I wrote came out very fresh and with minimal BS. Now that i am working longer hours it is hard, but if I want to work on something i normally do it in the very early morning.

“Teaching without words and work without doing are understood by very few.”
-Tao Te Ching

My suggestion: Get rid of the TV. That way instead of spending hours together in front of the tube, You can spend a couple of hours of more quality time together. If your time together is more quality time, then maybe she wont need as much of your time.

Someone suggested that you define your work area at home. People are told that you are working when in this area, and that they are not allowed in that area. Anyone that understands that you have to work for a living would understand this. You of coarse do need to set some reasonable hours. You can’t spend the whole time you are both home and awake, in the office area. When your both home and not working initiate activities together, so that when you are working, she can be doing something she likes that doesn’t include you. She knows that you will do things together, and doesn’t feel like she needs your attention whenever she can get it.

She does respect my privacy when I’m working at home for pay…it’s carving out time for my own writing that I’m having trouble doing.

Thanks for all your suggestions, everyone. Now I’d like to hear from someone who was offended by a writer(or whatever) telling you to leave him/her alone while they were in the throes of creation, and how you wish they would have handled it.

Live a Lush Life
Da Chef

My wife wanted a place of her own, to do her art work in. Someplace where no one would come in and interrupt, or cats on her drawings, etc.

So, I built her a studio, separate from the house, even though I have some of the Chef’s wife’s feelings of jealousy.

So now, she just feels guilty about going out and using the studio. And I do miss having her around, but I think we will work it out over time. I think that I need a little more for myself to do than watch TV, though.

I’m sending this back to the top because I don’t think enough people saw my second question before the thread dropped off the continental shelf into deep water.

so how about it? Is anyone involved with a tortured artist who finally had to ask for time to suffer in solitude? Were your feelings hurt? Do you wish they’d handled it differently? Alternatively, are YOU a tortured artist with a perspective on the above? Let’s hear from you.

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Da Chef

I find I get lots of writing done when I forgo sleep.

“…all the prettiest girls live in Des Moines…”
–Jack Kerouac, On the Road

I hear the Overlook Hotel is looking for a caretaker for the winter.

Dialog from “Bad Medicine”

Steve Guttenberg (after being turned down for a date 'cause she’s gotta study): "Come on…you know what they say, “All work and no play…”
Julie Hagerty: “uh-huh. that’s what I say, too.”

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Da Chef