Tips for Writers Working at Home, But Not Alone: Part 1

Beth Fowler headshot by Beth Fowler

 

 

 

 

 

When you sit down to write, does it seem as if family members conspire to prevent you from writing, and as if domestic duties scream for attention? Well, if you cave in and put writing aside, you won’t make money from what you didn’t write. Right? Here are techniques you can use to find writing time in your busy days.

  1. Build respect. One writer bribed her kids with ice cream bought with money she hoped to earn from articles. Not good. Healthy relationships are built on respect, not on bribes. Writers can say, “Writing is important to me. It would help if you didn’t disturb me for the next three hours. Can you do that?” Then stick to the agreement.
  2. Share enthusiasm. Encourage your family to write a neighborhood newsletter, a cookbook, a letter to an editor, a journal. Once they’ve seen their work in print, they’ll understand why you like to write. It’s rewarding.
  3. Compromise. Jolyn’s mother interrupted his writing by asking for rides to town. Jolyn chauffeured his mother for a ten-minute errand, which expanded to one hour. Jolyn and Mom could compromise: “Mom, I’ll take you to town at three o’clock. Until then I need time to write.” Mom agrees. But at noon she asks: “Can we go to town now?” Jolyn used to give in. Now he says, “You’ve interrupted me, even though we agreed I’ll take you to town at three o’clock. I’ll take you at three o’clock.” After all, compromise means vow together.
  4. Educate non-writers. When I told ten-year-old Christopher that I write at home, he said, “Oh, you don’t work.” Because I don’t pack a briefcase and commute daily to an office, I didn’t fit his idea of a legitimate worker. Had I explained that his favorite author J.K. Rowling began like I did—getting rejections, honing skills in relative anonymity, writing and rewriting (and re-rewriting) Christopher might have agreed that what I do is work, even if I’m not famous. Like all artists, writers serve apprenticeships too.
  5. Nurture important relationships. Screenwriter Tim Burton (“Beetlejuice” and “The Nightmare Before Christmas”) said that his “interiorizing” separated him from people. He added, “It makes you think you’re crazy.” Before everybody goes crazy, set aside time to nurture friendships and family ties.
  6. Empathize with non-writers. We writers are consumed with twisting our tales or creating zippy dialogue. How do others perceive us? Dusty Wesker is married to Arnold Wesker, author of 30-plus plays. She said, “Living with a writer and a writer’s ego is incredibly difficult. We’ve had a wonderful life together, but there have been ups and downs, but I’m resilient.” Resilience on everybody’s part is vital for every relationship’s longevity.
  7. Create a workspace. You’ll be taken more seriously if you create a permanent writing center. You’ll take yourself more seriously, too. Organize your filing system, install a shelf for reference and resource books, use good equipment, go to writers’ group meetings.
  8. Write in a healthy environment. The work center shouldn’t be tucked into a murky corner. Select a place that inspires productivity. Scientists believe that plants in an office improve productivity, lower energy consumption, reduce noise levels and are, of course, aesthetically pleasing. Choose a place with good circulation. Built up dust, pet hairs, traces of cleaners, mold and carbon dioxide can cause headaches and allergic reactions.

 

ken's war coverWhen teen rebellion & culture shock collide. Shop here: Ken’s War

Ken’s War is vibrant with authority … Fowler’s elegantly written novel risks exploring the full range of teenage behavior and emotion.” Nancy Springer, award- winning author of YA books.

 

 

 

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