Many of us, however, fantasize about literary miracles we could accomplish if only we could find a place where everyday demands did not disturb our genius.
For the majority, home does not present a writing refuge, unless we use the handy bomb shelter its former owners built during the 1960s.
But parents without benefit of bomb shelters must use the little ones' naptime, TV, movie and computer time to achieve writing goals. Creative activities--such as lipsticking walls and flushing silverware down--may keep toddlers' interest for longer periods, but no easy answers exist. Any suggestions from the mommies in our ranks?
Older children present less difficulty. The key is giving them attention--lots of attention--without involving a computer, screen or cell phone. Play with blocks, balls and board games, and within minutes, you'll find yourself bankrupting yourself on Board Walk. Now, put the game down and go back to work.
Teens are even easier, as they dislike your company, anyway. Tell elephant jokes to their friends and show them how you used to dance the jerk, and they will not approach you until time to pay for college.
Spouses, however, can present challenges tantamount to those of dealing with toddlers. Some writers resort to negative tactics, threatening to starch spouses' underwear or microwave their charge cards. Positive reinforcement--better known as bribery--produces better results. For example, "Give me two hours of undisturbed writing time, and I'll stop wearing that sweater my mother gave me for Christmas." Or "I'll get the oil changed in my car before the engine falls out." Or "I'll [spouse fills in the blank]." Note: Consult a lawyer before signing anything.
Despite off/on buttons, answering services and caller identification, phones often present a problem. If you cannot resist your ringtone, I suggest you read The Chicago Manual of Style aloud to callers. Any telemarketer with a shred of self-preservation instinct will cease and desist, as will relatives who want to borrow money or in-laws with parenting advice.
Imaginative measures also can discourage solicitors or nosy neighbors. A moat with crocodiles conveys the need for privacy. Also, do research for your eighteenth-century romance by guillotining fruit in your front yard, and no siding salesman will dare invade your space. Plus, you'll eat healthy.
Some writers solve the privacy problem by leaving home and going public.
- Deserted college libraries present good writing environments. Take care, however, not to fall asleep in some cozy corner. The librarian may depart for the Bahamas, taking the keys with her, and you might not emerge until Christmas break is over.
- Try wearing a Grim Reaper outfit to a coffee shop.
- Write in a cemetery. There, you may weep over your characters' sorrows, and no one will disturb you.
- Don't bathe for a month so that you fit the image of a real writer. Sometimes we look--and smell--normal, so no one takes our need for solitude seriously. Do this, and they will.
- If all else fails and deadlines loom, you can get arrested. And with a little extra effort, you can achieve solitary confinement.
Hopefully, these suggestions have paved the way for your success. If so, please consider contributing money for my bail, as I've met my deadline and don't like the food here.