|Mountaintop ranch at 7,000 ft.|
Because I began my writing career as a news reporter, I could probably write in the middle of a traffic jam, but there are distractions that bring me to an exasperating halt. Phones and door bells ringing, neighbors and friends popping in unexpectedly, salesmen (yes, they still occasionally appear on your doorstep), missionaries leaving pamphlets, and so on.
According to Carl Honore, who wrote In Praise of Slowness, it takes our brains eight minutes to return to our creativity mode whenever we’re distracted. Telephone interruptions require a fifteen minute recovery time. With email, one message delays your creative train of thought for more than a minute, according to Lois J. Peterson in her article, “May I Put You on Hold?”
Peterson says, “High tech interruptions come with built-in controls, if only we would use them.” We have answering machines, caller I.D. and email programs that alert us to messages, if we leave the programs open. Shutting down the Internet while we write is one solution as well as unplugging the phones, especially if we have broadband service.
What if? would always be on my mind if I shut off all forms of communication. What if there’s an accident at the job site, what if one of our adult children needed our help? What if my husband had an accident or broke down on the way home?
Before he retired, my husband and I shared a home office. Although background music helped, I was often interrupted by not only the phones but my husband wanting to share something with me. Many spouses don't understand that writing isn’t just a hobby or an excuse to avoid housework. Bestseller status would undoubtedly cure that problem.
My husband reads more than I do, including my books. I’ve talked to other writers whose spouses don’t read their work, and resent the time they spend writing instead of with the family. Countless writers have said their spouses’ resent their creativity. Writers, artists and entertainers used to only comprise 5% of the population (before self publishing), so that placed us in a special category, of which I can't think of anything comparable, with the possible exception of rocket science. I’m not advocating that writers be placed on pedestals, but regardless of how much money we earn, or how little, our writing time should be respected by family members.
Writing isn’t just an occupation that usually doesn't pay well, for me it’s a source of joy and feeling of accomplishment, like nothing else. I’d rather write than attend a party, sell books at a signing, or stay in bed all day to read.
Although most women writers have said, “I need a wife to do the chores so I can write,” the obvious solution is to marry another writer who cooks, cleans and edits. And while we’re at it, make sure he looks like George Clooney.
Most of my writing problems were solved when my husband retired and we moved to a small mountaintop ranch (pictured above) with only cell phone service and few neighbors. The only distractions are cows mooing in the distance and an occasional deer or antelope passing by my window. Or an eagle soaring past. It doesn't get much better than that.
~Jean Henry Mead