I had goals before the storms hit. Nothing major. Write a chapter section or two. Review an outline. Hash out an idea or three. Schedule some promos. All within the realm of possibilities. After all, a day of snow or a holiday doesn’t keep me home from work. I shouldn’t be falling behind in my goals . . . Oh yeah, I don’t live alone. There are other people here and disruptions in their schedules means a disruption in mine.
That’s the ‘danger’ of not having an office at home and still wanting to get work done. You rely on others to stay out of your way and keep some things under control. For example, one would expect another adult to entertain the kid after you request some time to check your email, respond to blog comments, or do a little work. Some people don’t really let this happen and you find yourself writing tweets while tickling a laughing kid with your feet. I’m sure other people have been in that kind of situation.
So, what can you do to help your author get work done on a day where the house is full?
- Realize that even though the weather or a holiday has given you a day off, a person who works from home doesn’t have this luxury. Not even just for authors here. They can’t say ‘my wife/husband has a day off’ and expect their own workload to understand.
- You can enjoy your sudden day off. Just don’t plop down an itinerary of events as if the author is sitting there with nothing to do.
- If you see the author on their laptop, with pen to paper, or lost in thought, DO NOT INTERRUPT! You can say ‘are you busy?’ or ‘do you have a second?’, but don’t push further than that. An author in the zone will not be happy with a derailment and you might find yourself tossed into the blizzard for a few minutes . . . without boots.
- Leaving the author alone and being quiet does help. This is the most precious gift you can give an artist of any kind. Just don’t end the day going ‘I left you alone, see?’ as if you’re owed a cookie or went so far out of your way to accomplish something that is nothing more than the kind version of the silent treatment.
- If you’re not doing anything and the author is stressing about things, take some chores off their hands. You might not realize that this stay-at-home person is working and maintaining the house. This goes for stay-at-home parents in general. An occasional easing of duties can say more than a gift or thank you.
- Don’t use an author’s notebooks, pens, pencils, and other supplies as if they’re communal. A visiting relative can be forgiven for not realizing a notepad contains part of an outline, but you live with the author. If you don’t recognize their tools then you’re in for a rough mood swing.
- Don’t break their lucky stapler. I don’t care if it was an accident. It’s why you can’t use it again. Right up there with the one time I lent you my winter jacket and you broke the zipper thingy . . . moving on!
- If the author is on the phone with his/her editor after struggling to make the time, try to keep the noise down. Besides getting work done, this is one of the few times they can talk shop with someone that is on a similar wavelength. That can be easily disrupted by shouting up the stairs about a mystery water bottle or the barging in of a child.
- Never say ‘you care more about your writing than me’ to an author. Surefire way to be proven right, start a screaming match, or push your own hobby into the spotlight. Many times an author is carving out what little time they can and they aren’t ecstatic about missing out on family time. It’d be no different than us going into an office for work and then coming home. The less time we’re given to work, the less time we get to spend with family. Same as any other job, but we’re still in the house and that makes it a lot more ‘painful’ for the author. You think we really enjoy hearing the fun and making the decision to keep working?