This past week household problems have interfered with my writing. Not my time so much, — it is possible to put fingers to keyboard while waiting for the repairman — but with my mental space. While I could physically write and wait at the same time, mentally, I just wasn’t there. I sat in front of the keyboard and thought about what I’d tell the repairman when he finally showed up. I rehearsed different scenarios. Would they give me a bill? This item should still be under warranty. Would I argue if he did? How would I know if he’d fixed it properly? I only wish my characters could have as many and varied conversations as I had with my absent repairman.
Since writers live in the real world I thought it would be useful to develop some coping mechanisms for time when “real world” overwhelms “writer world.”
- Set a time for the repairman to come. Usually the window is a wide one, like all afternoon, but even if you narrow down to a specific day, that’s progress. Having a time when the crisis will be resolved is freeing for the mind. My repairman just called to cancel that appointment, so the wait continues, but the theory is still good.
- Write somewhere else. Go to the coffee shop, the library, the park, even a different room in the house. If the balky appliance is invisible, it is easier to ignore.
- Turn off the internet. So long as I can Google my problem, I’ll be thinking of how to fix it myself. Tighten that screw. Find a reset button. Check that wire. “How to” videos are wonderful tools, but they make us all responsible for all our own tasks! Remember when we had travel agents and plumbers and mechanics to make life easier? Now we’re all supposed to take on those jobs because “you can do it on-line.”
- Do a short writing project — like this blog. Even an overcrowded brain can concentrate for a short while. Who knows, just tapping the keys might trick the brain into entering writing mode.
- Do a mechanical kind of writing task. I do a lot of my writing longhand. When the mind is busy elsewhere, I can transcribe those handwritten pages to the computer and still make progress on the writing front.
- Do some of those pesky social media chores. Short, interrupt-able, and necessary.
- Throw up your hands and do something else. All that adrenaline coursing through your system gives you extra strength for yanking up weeds, or scrubbing a mossy deck or tackling the basement shelves, while continuing the mental conversation with the absent repairman.
So, there’s my list. What do you do?