Thursday, 22 December 2016

So You're a Writer. Why Don't You Get a Proper Job?

Do you get fed up being interrupted when you're writing.
Why is it any different from any other job?
Image by Pixabay
It's not my fault I don't have time to write," said a Writing Society colleague. "I'm too available. My sister called at 10.30 this morning to say she was fed up. Her entire life is the pits. I wish she'd left it till this evening, as I'd promised myself an uninterrupted morning at my computer. But I listen. What else can I do?"
Does this sound familiar? It's the downside of being a freelance writer. You may feel bad about being unavailable, but that person probably has a sister, husband or friend who is in a so-called "proper job" and they wouldn't dream of turning up at their places of work with their problems. You, however, are a little more flexible, and in most people's minds, "flexible" means "not urgent" – maybe not even very important. You may be on a high, fully aware that if you don’t commit your creativity to a permanent medium this minute your synaptic connections will go AWOL.
Another colleague agrees. "Those immortal words," she says. "Can you take in this parcel for the lady next door?" It doesn't seem much to ask, except that because this colleague is mostly at home writing, her house has become a virtual sub-depot for several busy carrier services.
Interrupting Your Creativity
Poised in the midst of a complex jumble of ideas, you're so high on creative adrenaline that you're not even on this earthly plane. Till the doorbell rings – again. Your neighbour wants to show you her purchase of a pair of leather, high fashion boots to die for.
Some freelance writers are unable to work to a set routine in any case, so while progressing through a story, article or novel, it’s impossible to predict when your creativity will be at its most intense. "Don’t come round Tuesday afternoon after three, as I’ll be having an amazing flash of inspiration" is not an option. If only people would phone first, so that if you're preoccupied, the answerphone can deal with it.
"It can be even more difficult when I’m researching in another town," says a travel writer. "I try not to let on as someone always wants to come with me for a fun day out."
Just think about it. Most people would be outraged if you turned up unexpectedly at their office or factory for a chat while they are busy, or wanted to accompany them to a business meeting upcountry. Or is there some other agenda at work here, the conviction that writing is not a real job? Hmm! This certainly seems to be the implication and yet, we continue trying to find time to write whether we are professionals, beginners or complete novices. We are all passionate about what we do even though other people don’t get it.
Be Proactive
The solution requires not analysis and gentle explanation, but a much thicker skin. You have to be pro-active. Don't say, "I'm writing." That's ancient Greek to a lot of people. Instead of saying you're writing, you need to speak in a language understood by non-writers. Just say, very firmly: "I'm working. I have a deadline to meet." The deadline part might be a tiny fib, but God will forgive you. If it doesn't convince first time, do "Broken Record" and just keep repeating those words: "I'm working. I have a deadline." If you don't already have a front door speaker system to identify and deter unwanted callers like carriers or workmen who want to asphalt your drive or fix the tiles on your roof, it might be worth splashing out on one for the sake of your creativity.

If you really don't want to hurt your caller's feelings, you can always ask them to come back at a time when you're not writing – I mean – not working.

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