Hello, my name is …. and I am a recovering interruptee.
I can be distracted by a book, a trip to the store, a call from one of my kids. And those are just the fun distractions. I can also be pulled off course by bills, sick family, and too much on my plate – all requiring my attention now.
There are three different kinds of reactions to being interrupted repeatedly in your writing day.
The Hell or High Water Reaction
This is the kind of reaction in which you keep on writing because you set your timer to write for an hour, and dammit, that’s exactly what you are going to do. Your boss can call, your mother can call, your kids can be building a rocket ship out of cardboard boxes in the dining room, but you are going to finish your chapter/essay/paragraph before you respond. You might stop if you smell smoke.
The Fine, If That’s How You Want It Reaction
This is the kind of reaction in which you quit writing whenever it gets too frustrating to continue. Your mother calls again, for the third time today, with a funny story about Aunt Minnie. Your kids are circling your writing chair with a high-pitched chant of “Mommy, Mommy, Mommy.” Or your boss thinks that since you are sitting at your desk over lunch, you really do want to discuss the 2:00 PM meeting with the project team. After enough of these kinds of interruptions over a long enough period of time, you will put the writing away for longer and longer, until one day you realize you used to write.
The Rejigging Reaction
Better than the other two extremes, this requires a light touch. You have to remember, in the midst of your frustration, that you are in control. You can alter the terms of your writing journey and the arrangements you’ve made to get where you want to go.
If you need to stop writing to handle an interruption, you really can write later. If you have to get up at five o’clock and write with a sleepy baby in your lap, you can do it. If the kids absolutely won’t give you any peace, enlist their cooperation. I’ve sat mine up at their own writing desks, and had them make their own books. If the boss always stops by your desk at lunch, then you need to work somewhere else. The point is, if you always keep your general destination in mind, you can steer for it, and make a series of small changes and rejig your plan to make it fit your overall goal. Every person’s solution will be different, but you can fiddle with your solution until it fits.