Friday Speak Out!: My Writing Time is Non-Negotiable, Guest Post by Heather Humphrey

Friday, August 13, 2010
My Writing Time is Non-Negotiable

by Heather Humphrey

The sign on my bedroom door is a sticky note on which I've scrawled "I'm Writing, GO AWAY!" It's proven to be a wildly ineffective tool. One of the 3 other residents I share this space with will see the note and either walk away loudly dejected or timidly tap at the door, with flagrant disregard for their lives. Lucky for them, my cohabitants are the people I love most in the world, my two teenagers and my husband. So whether I'm stuck and feeling like the only person on the planet ever to experience writers block or I'm having a stream of fortune with cleverly crafted sentences simply flying across the page, chances are pretty good that I'm not going to kill one of my little interrupters. I will definitely threaten to, but never actually perform the act. My therapist assures me that it is normal to wish ill for those who disregard the need for occasional solitude.

The CBS Sunday morning program interviewed the adult children of Erma Bombeck this past Mother's Day. They claim they knew when mother was writing and not to disturb her. "Mommy has a deadline, we must leave her alone!" How nice for her. I bet if she were alive for the interview her story would be different. I prefer to picture her sitting at her writing desk with a shiny dagger within reach and wielding it wildly with a primal scream when one of her little interruptions dared to tap at her door.

It's ok to sequester yourself and expect to be allowed the time to write. Time and space to allow creativity to flourish and burst forth is essential to writing. Practicing our craft and nurturing our works in progress are what keep us sane and more pleasant to be around. The only way to be fulfilled as a writer, is to write. Seeing our work through drafts, edits, rewrites and to completion is what feeds our soul. Can't get a minute for yourself? Respect your writer self enough to do what you need. Rent a room down the block, drive to that abandoned house in the woods that everyone thinks is haunted, borrow a room from a relative, set up camp at the bagel shop. Where ever you go; write, write, and write.

It's taken a while to take my writing seriously enough to feel worthy of these shining moments of solitude. Getting it into my head that my role as writer is just as important as my other roles was an arduous task only made possible with a lot of coaching from my therapist. But here I am, a fierce protector of my writing time, wielding my silver dagger and perfecting my banshee scream. While distraction is inevitable when you are blessed to have a family, you can still be Mom/Wife/Dog Walker/ & Writer. Use some of the creativity that makes you a wonderful writer to bust the distraction factor. How do you deal with distraction?

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Heather Humphrey lives in Upstate New York with her 2 teenagers, husband and dog Lucy. Unpublished [so far ;0)] writer & regular contributor at She is currently working on a collection of poetry and short stories.

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Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!



LAH said...

...How do I deal with distraction? Well... blissfully and damnably I banished distraction when I quit my job and resolved to begin writing full-time while traveling... this means that I no longer have all my comfortable distractions: Career, Social Life, Family Obligations, Dog... but means that I am left with my worst weakness and distraction that I would wish to never acknowledge:
It has always been my dream to "get away and write" but it is proving a lot more difficult than I thought... but perhaps that is part of what is so valuable in all of this. I am learning that its not really "life" that is ever the enemy of my progress, its just self-sabotage and laziness. But alas, I order my coffee or tea or pad thai and I stare at my screen and I will my fingers to move and my mind to weave, and hopefully, eventually, something happens.

Donna Volkenannt said...

Hi Heather,
Thanks for the great post. I love the phrase "shining moments of solitude."
As a grandmother raising two grandchidren, I cherish those moments of solitude when I can write uninterrupted, which are usually in the morning when they are sleeping or when they are in school (next Wednesday I'll be celebrating more time to write.)
Happy writing,
Donna Volkenannt

Jean Sarauer said...

I've had to ask my 'interrupters' questions that let them see things through my eyes. When my husband continually interrupted my writing time, I asked him if he'd like for me to come to his workplace every half hour or so and strike up a chat. Same with the kids (they're all young adults now). Not one of them seems to want me showing up at their workplaces and they've since come a long way in respecting my work space too.

Cathryn Bonica said...

Heather, The funny thing about finding those moments of solitude to focus on writing is that, in my house, they don't shine until after nine (pm that is). The more I insist my children, husband, dog leave me be to write, the more they insist whatever is happening with them is more important. So I wait, coersively patient, until the house beds down. That's when I shine. And live for the day when, hopefully, they all grow up!

bigred909 said...

Thanks for all of your comments! Distractions are often blessings in disguise (and material!)
Keep writing! ;)

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