November 25, 2012

Managing Friends And Family

A writer writes. Chances are you could do with some more hours in front of the screen, and I’m not talking about rotting away on Facebook. Finding the time to write, and then actually sit down and do it, is hard, even if we set aside the perils of the craft.

Writing really is hard enough as it is.

Hopefully you have plenty of friends and a great family. Maybe you’ve got kids, pets, or a wife or husband that you share your castle with. That’s great, but they are all Enemies of Writing. You see, your everyday life will invade on your writing. People will ask you for help, dogs need walking, kids want to play, adults want to play, online friends want to chat, and so on. Every time this happens when you’re writing you’ll be in a fix.

The key to a working social life as a writer is to make sure that people aren’t bothering you when you’re writing. You need to do what it takes to make people close to you understand that you need space when writing. No taking out the trash, no errands, nothing but writing. Stand firm, make your close ones understand, and you’ll find it easier to write.

Naturally being a writer won’t get you a free pass to doing chores. You just shouldn’t be bothered with them when you’re writing. Because, you know, writing is hard enough as it is. Did we cover that already?

If you are having problems getting your friends and family understand how important writing is to you, then you have your work cut out for you. You need to get them to understand so that you avoid unnecessary tension. Spouses will get annoyed, friends will think you’re boring, and so on – that’s bad enough. What’s equally bad is when you feel you’re saying “no” all the time, when you feel that you’re neglecting your social life because you’re writing. You’re a stand up guy/gal, you want to help, but you’d rather do it when you’re not writing.

You need to suck it up. When you’re writing, you’re writing, nothing else.

Getting friends and family to understand that writing takes your complete attention is important. I’d even venture so far as to say that it is key to being a happy writer, which I’m sure your friends and family would want you to be.

Then there’s the flipside. The times when you are interrupted, and rightfully so. When there’s a crisis or someone really needs you. There’s a huge difference between sitting at the hospital with someone you love, not writing when you should, and getting interrupted beceuase someone misplaced the TV remote. We’re all human beings, after all, and although writing is important, friends and family are even more so.

That is just the thing. Friends and family will always take up time from writing, so what you need to do is make sure it doesn’t intrude when you’re sitting down to actually write. By making sure your close ones know of this, and how important it is to not disturb you, your life will be a lot easier. Theirs too.

Thoughts? Let @tdh know on Twitter, or find me elsewhere. There is also a newsletter.