I’m the only writer in my house. I’m the only person that spends a majority of their day, at a computer, doing work. And I love it. I quite literally quit retail work to pursue freelancing, and I wouldn’t change that for anything.
Unfortunately, that means that while I have the reprieve of not working with the public, I work from home. And no one in my house actually has a job… or a social life… outside of the house.
So, I’m usually surrounded, constantly, by people who do not leave my house and who also do not write and therefore do not understand the concept of being at the computer does not necessarily mean that I am doing nothing and that, yes, my being at the computer for 10+ hours a day is actually work and perhaps I should at least be left alone for a portion of those hours.
And it’ll happen in bursts. In the middle of a really, really good writing stride, only to be interrupted. Be it others in my house being rowdy themselves, or trying to have conversations with me, or… whatever whim of the hour is. Naturally, I have to respond, because the rules of social convention dictate that when someone speaks to you, despite doing something of Importance, you must respond. And give them time. Etc. And then I have to get back in the groove to be interrupted again. And I’m certain it’s not malicious, but it tends to be obvious when it happens multiple times a day that my agitated social cues are not enough to convey that hello, I am doing the Work, so talk about our inclimate weather to a person who cares and who isn’t in the middle of trying to make a deadline.
It’s a frustration that I imagine other writers face, where their efforts and their time are not respected, simply because people don’t understand that, huh. We’re actually doing work and putting in effort something. And I think for the most part, people don’t understand that writers, like other workers, need time and space to do their work. Writing takes effort and energy and constant interruption does nothing but impede that.
So, maybe you live with a writer, and maybe you’re possibly guilty of accidental interruption. And maybe your writer friend/roomie/relative/lover/partner is a bit like me, and tries to avoid confrontation as much as possible and is just letting it slide (while venting about it on the internet, lovely , or maybe they’ve tried to talk to you and you still don’t get it. A few tips.
- Work time is sacred. Respect it like you’d respect any other job that requires concentration and personal time.
- Our offices or office spaces or work spaces or wherever/whatever we’re using as a place of writerly harmony is not a free-for-all. You wouldn’t burst into the Oval Office willy nilly just because you wanted to talk to the president for a second, don’t come in our spaces when we’re doing our thing.
- Standing behind us to watch what we’re writing is creepy… Just don’t do it. You can always just ask what we’re working on later.
- If we’re quiet/not responding to you immediately/etc., it’s not because we hate you, it’s because we’re working.
- The ‘lol you have it so easy what with sitting at a computer all day’ and comments of other variations are truly, wholly, unnecessary.
- Yes, working at a computer all day is real work.
- Yes, writing is real work.
- We’re working, I promise you.