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Pen IN Hand
Gimme My Space!
By Peggy Bechko
September, 2005, 23:20

t seems to me that solitude, in these frenetic days, is highly underrated.

Except, that is, by writers for whom it is a necessity. We who write know it, but sometimes it can be a bit difficult to get friends, neighbors, family and other assorted distractors to recognize our reality.

They aren't bad (well, some of them are) they just can't seem to get it. When a writer is sitting at his or her desk, whether published or not, he or she is working (make that a capital W).

Solitude is good. We are not lonely. Nor do we have time to spare to chat, to walk the dog, to baby sit or any other of a hundred or more other requests.

If you, as a writer, expect to ever get anything done you're going to have to set boundaries. It's a fact of life. There are those who think we have plenty of time and aren't really doing anything anyway.

This is a notion that must be stamped out. Especially if you are, as most writers just beginning are, squeezing your writing time into a very busy schedule of family, work and relaxation.

Writing time is limited and precious. We have a hard enough time keeping our noses to the grindstone, fighting procrastination, without outside helpers to throw more fuel on that fire. So, what is the writer to do?

Just for beginners, don't answer the phone. Let the machine get it. Unless you're expecting a very important call from a publisher momentarily, or you're in the midst of some sort of emergency, there's no reason to pick it up while writing.

Many writers are shy and quiet. Well, don't be. Speak up. Let friends and family know how important writing is to you. Ask them to respect your space. If that doesn't work, threaten them with something. Don't ask me what, you're a writer, use your imagination.

Because, here's the thing, along with all those other skills you must develop as a writer, you also have to be a diplomat. Keep things pleasant and on a request level when possible. Otherwise resort to firm arm-twisting and occasional threats. Hey, just like a real diplomat!

It's additionally helpful if a dependable schedule can be set up. Not always possible for the beginning writer, but a worthy goal nonetheless.

The more clearly you, the writer, can define your parameters the more likely you'll get cooperation. Tell family and friends, "I write from 6 pm until 8:30 pm. Please don't disturb me during those hours. If you call the answering machine will take your message and I'll get back to you."

Then, if you take time to write outside your normal schedule, don't snap at someone who calls you unknowingly, especially if they're being conscious and purposely calling you during non-designated hours.

If you have kids you might try scheduling your work time to coincide with their bedtime or when they're doing homework. Better to go with the flow when possible than to fight it.

If you are fortunate enough that your work space is somewhere you can close a door between you and distractions then close it. Put a barrier between yourself and the intrusions of the outside world.

Solitude is a very good thing. If you can maintain it in the face of all the distractions thrown up by the world you might even be able to hear yourself think.IN Icon 

Author of Doubleday western novels, Harlequin romances, Fictionworks' fantasies (Ebook format), Peggy Bechko has also optioned screenplays domestically and abroad, written for an animated series and for variety of other venues. She's working on a new novel and collaborating with a producer on a animated series.

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