This is a guest post by my author friend, Charles E. Yallowitz. Written in his trademark tongue-in-cheek manner, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
Writing In The Midst Of Chaos
Thank you to Nicholas for offering a spot on his blog. My name is Charles E. Yallowitz and I’m the author behind the Legends of Windemere blog. There’s also a fantasy adventure series by that name if anyone is into that kind of stuff or simply curious about a new genre. I’ll just leave the link HERE and mosey away from the blatant promo. Figure it’s a requirement considering I am an author and electric companies prefer money than signed eBooks or mentions in a story.
One of the most common questions and post subjects I’ve seen as an author involves talking about your workstation. I’ve seen neat desks, messy offices, shelves with action figures, and even writing sheds. Let me show you what I’m working with:
Yeah, I’ve got nothing. The bed is the easiest place to work, which explains the giant divot that says a bit too much about my hindquarters. Once the weather gets hot, I’m forced to migrate down the dining room and work within the chaos. That’s the stage I’m going to write about here because most authors don’t do well here. It’s a different atmosphere working at home than a library or a coffeehouse. You get a sense that interruptions will occur, which range from people talking to the phone going off. I’ve spoken to more robots than humans on that thing. So, what are some tips to being productive within a chaotic house?
- Preparation is key here because leaving your spot is filled more dangers than wearing bacon underwear and walking through bear country. Put your laptop or notebook in place, but then hit the bathroom, get 2-4 drinks, check the lighting, and stock up on snacks before sitting down. Seriously, an author wandering away from their workstation is a sign that they are done and can be dragged into something else. I don’t even recommend leaning back. Even if you can’t think of what to write, hunch over your work like your life depends on it.
- If you’re like me and need music, then headphones are a must. Noise-canceling types are good, but they create a threat to your focus. People may still be calling for you and they’ll get aggressive if you ignore them for too long. That’s when the shoulder pokes, looming presences, and hands waved in front of the face come into play. That’s actually a lot more startling than being called to. I prefer simple earbuds because I can hear the music and zone out just enough that I only get brought out when I hear my name. Honestly, headphones might even work if you don’t have music and they can act as a decoy.
- Work on your ‘bothering me’ look, which can drive some people away if they just happen to be around. This doesn’t really work when you’re the target of their attention, but it can help in other instances. For example, someone is on the phone and ends up taking the call in the same room even though they have a whole house to work with. My personal favorite is when other people work at the table to prepare food even though the kitchen is one room over. Seriously, I don’t care if it’s a gourmet salad with an odd number of shrimp. Take the negotiations to either the kitchen or a boxing ring.
- While it isn’t pretty, you can put up folders or some other kind of barrier like they would do during tests in school. You might feel foolish and the whole thing can be undone by a ceiling fan or an open window. Still, it can prevent the smaller intrusions from happening, especially if you write warnings on the other side.
- Put out an ‘interruption jar’, which means people put a dollar in for every time they break your concentration. This might stop the distractions altogether, so don’t get too used to buying coffee and snacks with your loot. Also, be a little flexible when people don’t have the cash. Just run up a tab on a notepad that you keep in the opening. Write in pen because you never know when someone will come by with an erasure and a plan.
- When almost everything fails, begging may get you an hour or two. Push the need for quiet and solitude even if you’re in view. Promise to clean something or cook dinners for the week. No sense in maintaining your pride and it isn’t like anyone outside of the house will notice. Well, the mailman might see it if your timing is off. Not to mention any neighbors that happen to look through the window. Eh, you’re probably seen as an oddball anyway.
- When everything fails, time to go full Tasmanian Devil. Yell, scream, cry, spit, and spin around the place. Make loud declarations about your dreams being in danger and how this is why so many authors drink heavily. Sure, you might be tired and stuck in a rage when you sit down to write, but at least you’re being left alone for a while.
About the Author:
Charles Yallowitz was born and raised on Long Island, NY, but he has spent most of his life wandering his own imagination in a blissful haze. Occasionally, he would return from this world for the necessities such as food, showers, and Saturday morning cartoons. One day he returned from his imagination and decided he would share his stories with the world. After his wife decided that she was tired of hearing the same stories repeatedly, she convinced him that it would make more sense to follow his dream of being a fantasy author. So, locked within the house under orders to shut up and get to work, Charles brings you Legends of Windemere. He looks forward to sharing all of his stories with you, and his wife is happy he finally has someone else to play with.
- Blog: www.legendsofwindemere.com
- Twitter: @cyallowitz
- Facebook: Charles Yallowitz
- Website: www.charleseyallowitz.com
- All cover art done by JASON PEDERSEN
Great article Charles and I can totally relate! ~Elle
Can’t we all… Sigh… 🙂
Enjoyed your post. Will get to your books this winter. I Tweet them regularly. Right now i am trying to finish my book and so my time is spent on the keyboard.
Thanks and hope you enjoy my series when you can get to it. Good luck with your book.
Love this, Charles! Every bit, so true! I’m almost down to an empty nest, but DH has a tendency to turn the TV up way too loud for my ears, and I have a tough time blocking it. I can’t wait until both the kids have flown the nest and I can confiscate one of their bedrooms for a writing office 🙂
I have a long, long tone before that scenario. The kid isn’t even the biggest distraction, so I don’t think it will change much. At least I can distract him with Legoes.
What a fun post from Charles. I think I’m going to get myself an interruption jar, just for my husband to donate to, lol. That would add up to like selling a couple of ebooks a day, but unfortunately, it would also be like taking from Peter to pay Paul. LOL. 🙂
That’s the only reason why I haven’t already got one for Electra 😀
Good point on the jar. Probably works best when you have company or just as a statement.
Lol, true! 😉
Great post, I’m still laughing. How about adding a catheter? When my cat wants attention, he jumps in my lap and swats at the screen. You don’t ignore him, it only get worse. Thanks for sharing.
I have both a cat and a toddler. Sigh…
I work near big windows, so a catheter might be too awkward when neighbors look over. Not sure since I’ve yet to have the ‘pleasure’ of that experience. No cats here due to other people’s allergies, but I have an 8-year-old who always wants to help.
Interruption Jar? Love it! I simply must create one! Thanks! 😉
I’m seriously considering it. Only problem is, most distractions come courtesy of the wee one, and she tends to pay up in dirty rocks and pebbles.
You’re welcome. Glad you enjoyed it. 😀
This was over the top funny. I like the idea of not leaving the chair. Best advice totally. (Of course I will need Depends)
Sad thing is that it’s not as over the top as you would think. At least for this house.
Just avoid food and drink before writing 😀
Great post! I find I do best late at night when the house goes quiet. We live in an RV with a crazy cat and a hundred pound German Shepherd, talk about distractions, lol. I like the headphone idea, though I can’t work with noise around me. They’d be handy for tuning everyone out though, I could pretend I’m listening to something extremely important, shh!
Wearing headphones probably works best if you combine it with the “bothering-me” look whenever someone approaches 😀
Pets are a tough one. I’ve never had to deal with those distractions and you can’t really negotiate time. Headphones seem to be a popular suggestion here. 🙂
We only have one main room in our little rabbit hutch so I tap away on the dining table during the day and migrate to the sofa on the other side of the room in the evening. I’ve learned to block out the TV inches away from me and carry on tapping. After 4 years DH has now ‘got it’ and generally peers at me before talks, and he also goes to the gym twice a week leaving me in peace. I just have to pray those are creative times in my week.
I try not to leave my room unless I have to because people don’t get it. I can tune out one or two noises, but a cacophony is beyond my ability. This becomes a problem because there’s this idea that an author won’t be affected by a conversation if it isn’t directed at them. Doesn’t matter if the person happens to be sitting next to or even between to two chatters. Seriously, it’s just amazing how people inadvertently get into my space without really trying. Like I’m a distraction magnet.
I have developed the ability to turn my creativity onto full blast when I need it. Never know when I’ll have the time, so my imagination has to be ready to go.
I’m amazed at your ability to block out TV!
New Chaos Theory
One corollary for the ‘aging’ author. Since memory is prone to go off duty as often as a bladder needs a bathroom, it can be productive to leave every file on the desktop. That way although it might take half an hour to spot what you are looking for it is more reliable than trying the ‘search’ facility that requires you to remember what you called it.
The Downside is the embarrassment if you ever need a computer geek to ‘remotely view’ what looks like an underwear drawer desktop. But this can be ameliorated by posting up a ‘LAST WARNING’ If any of you create files without wiping afterwards then I WILL The geek does not need to know your children have almost reached retirement.
Great post Charles. Great Host Nicholas.
Thanks. Although, I’d hate to leave every file on the desktop. Clutter on the screen drives me nuts for some reason. It wouldn’t help much with me either. My notes are all handwritten, which is why I keep the notebooks near me. This does cause a problem if I ever have to backtrack to an earlier book for information and don’t remember which one in the series the info is found in.
Don’t ever get a dog.
Doubt I even have the space for one here.
It was intended as rather tongue in cheek Charles. I hate the clutter too BUT I find when I ‘tidy up’ by secreting folder within logical other folders the logic changes and I take an eternity to find them ( if I ever do) since many of the things I think I have written, may have been virtual ideas I never put down. The curse of being nothing but a writer is that not everything gets written!
I’d do the notebook Sarabande willingly, if I could read my own writing! With a mind that works faster than a hand ( my excuse for what my grandfather called an script not merely illegible but illiterate!) i could be justifiably be called a severely disabled writer! ( and that’s before the marketing maestro is even roped.) Chaos is a familiar constant.
I used to jot stuff down in computer files until a crash nearly erased everything. I’ve stuck with notebooks ever since. Not the easiest system to traverse, but I can check it quickly without waiting for a file to load. Helps with sudden idea jotting too.
I know a few authors like that. Though it seems to be a bigger issue with doctors. ?
Lol – I love the last warning idea 😀
Good to see how Charles works. I have yet to go ‘Tasmanian Devil’ or use music, but I also like the sound of that ‘distraction jar’!
Best wishes, Pete.
Tasmanian Devil is my specialty. 😉 Looks like the distraction jar is a success.
I so should use the ‘distraction jar’ around here…
The “bothering me” look and “interruption jar” are great ideas, Charles. Thanks! Great guest post, Nicholas.
Thank you so much, D 🙂
Loved this post, because you kept it real, Charles. I’ve seen many posts with pristine desks or authors smiling in a lovely cabin in the woods without a care in the world. No interruptions–just time to write and commune with nature. I’m glad for them. But that’s not the reality for many people.
I always wonder how they do that. I remember last year when my wife sent me away for a writing weekend, but I had no projects and felt lost. Just caught up on DVD’s and sleep. Maybe I’ve just become used to the chaos, which has become my reality.
That’s a worrying thought 😀
Truly is. ?
Now I wish I had a cabin…
I found a lot to laugh with here… I can’t write without headphones… and I like to leave everything out so I can touch it… So yea, Charles, thanks for letting me see your world. I will share this on my timeline!
Thanks for the share. I’ll admit that I don’t use headphones nearly as much as I should. That downside I mentioned is basically a hobby around here.
Thanks for sharing, Luna 🙂
Thanks for hosting. ?
Always at your service 🙂