Strange for me to put a serious one like this on a Sunday, but I really needed to get this off my chest. All year, there has been a strange habit of people messaging, calling, or flat out invading my space while I write. Not just when I’m writing, but they always seem to get me at delicate plot points. It can really derail me. This happens with biking and when I try to watch TV too. So frustrating!
The thing is that the people contacting me have no idea what I’m doing. So, I can’t get angry and think they’re doing this on purpose. They simply have free time to talk while I’m doing something. It’s the price of socializing, but the timing can always run me up the wall. I’m still mastering putting off responding, especially if it’s only one message or a request to watch a video. Things get rough when I get bombarded from all sides.
For example: There was one day in August where I was trying to write the final battle of Slumberlord Chronicles: Darwin & the Fate Bracelet. I had been chatting with one friend, who understands delayed responses and never seems to hit me with anything that derails my creativity. All of a sudden, I got a series of messages from another person about my books. Not too hard to handle. Then, a friend began telling me about their day from another app. Another started asking odd questions out of boredom. Finally, another person responded to a previous text and it started an argument. All of this hit me at once while I was trying to have two characters fight. Individually or with only two, I could handle it. Like this, I began sending quick messages that may have been a little more frustrated than I intended.
Still, you get cornered with the way these events happen. We no longer have true privacy any more because our phones create instant contact. Many people are used to immediate responses, so delaying results in more messages and maybe a phone call. Not everyone is texting on the toilet where they’re a captive audience. It’s amazing how we can be so alone and so crowded at the same time because of this technology.
Now, I know somebody is going to say ‘turn your phone off’. A good idea, but not as practical as you think. There are people I need to interact with for a variety of reasons and I can’t miss their messages. Some are friends who are going through rough patches and occasionally need someone to talk to. They’re there for me and I’m there for them. Others are people who may contact me about things regarding my son, which are messages I cannot ignore. The benefits of being easily accessible are great, but they also become the disadvantages. I can always mention I’m writing and they’ll understand that I need a few minutes to respond, but I still need to let these people know that I heard them and they’re not being ignored. Phone off means I’m not aware of the situation. To be fair, I have done that before and returned to a mess of messages with a few being very important and time sensitive. So, don’t think I never tried.
Do these interruptions wreck me entirely? Most times they don’t. There are the occasional interruptions that are highly negative and require that I take a mental health break. It’s usually just frustration and threats to the flow. I can usually get that back within minutes, but it can be exhausting if it keeps happening. Honestly, I think it does more damage to my biking than my writing. Hard to stay zoned out when my music keeps getting interrupting by the text dinging.
So, what interruptions drive you up the wall? How do you handle them?
Happens to me all the time. I especially hate when you’ve just spent ages doing something you’d have been able to easily do while dealing with calls and messages, or wouldn’t have minded stopping, and got nothing, but as soon as you settle down to do something important – writing, for example – the calls and messages start.
As for how I handle it: poorly. In other words, I end up talking to the people, and the thing I wanted to get done either gets done as best as I can while dealing with them or doesn’t end up happening. I’m trying to work on telling people I’m busy and unless it’s urgent I need to talk to them later, but the only time I have any luck with doing that is when it’s something I absolutely have to do right now and talking to them while doing it will be impossible, and even then I end up feeling guilty as if I did something wrong by telling them I can’t talk right now.
It does seem to always strike when I’m about to write or sleep. Where are these messages when I’m hanging around doing nothing?
I’m glad it’s more text messages than calls. I never know how to end a phone call without feeling rude. Writing is never an excuse though. Not for most people I interact with.
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It isn’t to most people I interact with either. Some people will accept that I’m busy, but with some people I end up having conversations that go something like this:
Them: “Are you busy?”
Me: “Yes. I’m writing.”
Them: “Good. Since you’re not busy…”
Me: “I just told you I’m busy.”
Them: “You’re only writing. You can do that any time.” *starts telling me about some random thing*
Me: “Did you call for something important?”
Them: “Weren’t you listening to me? I wanted to tell you about…” *starts talking about that random thing again*
Me: “I’m busy. Can we talk later?”
Them: “You never have time for me.” *insert ranting about how I don’t care about them, and they’re always there for me (even though they aren’t) and so on*
At which point I’m faced with the choice of giving in and just letting them tell me what they wanted to tell me, which is generally something that could have easily waited, or coming off like a jerk and hanging up/ignoring further messages from them. Nine times out of ten I end up giving in because it’s just easier.
Been there many times. I usually make an excuse. Though I know a few people who will continue talking even if I say I need to take care of my son. Really frustrating.
I usually get completely distracted. Bad news!
Charles, omg…interruptions one right after the other! Really, get to me too. With text messages, I respond with an emoji- thumbs up, heart, etc. They know I got it, and will answer sometime. Most people don’t want to activate the read message. But, I like it when I send a text. I know the person read it and at some point I may get a response. Cell calls are another thing. Robo-calls need to be blocked. A really pain as they have several phone numbers. A Spam block app.is a must. I’m probably lucky. I’ve been able to get back to writing after an interruption. My brain just works that way. Sometimes an idea gets better with a pause in time. Or maybe I’d like to think so. A bit of rationalizing. 📚🎶 Christine
The types of messages I get tend to be rather conversational and can include more than one person. So, I can’t always put it off unless I wish to be left out of the topic or can say I have something really important. Writing typically doesn’t cut it.
Robocalls are tough to block here. Many come in with the same caller ID as the school districts and a few doctors. So, I have to pick up.
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So sorry, you are trapped with no escape. A popular author and needed teacher. Which is probably no constellation when you want to concentrate on writing. Yikes! I’m kinda glad I’m a hermit with a handful of friends. 🤣 Christine
Not sure I’d say popular author. The messages are typically friends wanting to chat while at work. The expected calls are usually about my son too. They’re never really for me. 😢
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They all bug me, but I can usually get over a quick text or call pretty fast. A lot of activity around the house kills me. The headphones help, but aren’t always an option.
I tried headphones way back. Hit or miss there. If I ignored stuff for too long then things would pile up or I’d get a long line of ‘are you okay?’ messages.
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I understand that. At least someone cares about you. 🙂
The invention of the mobile phone is both a blessing and a curse. Once, before this, if someone phoned and got no reply, they thought you must be out, and they’d try again later. Now, though, the phone is always with us, and if someone gets no reply, they get concerned. We can’t simply ignore it.
I know that happens when I ring or text my children. If I get no answer, or no immediate reply to a text, I worry, because they’ve always got their phone with them. (Except when it’s in a different room, or they’re in the garden, or have it turned off because they’re at a concert or similar.)
It’s a problem to know what to do.
Could you put a comment in your answering message saying ‘I’m busy writing right now, so can’t speak to you at the moment. I’ll get back to you as soon as I can’?
Of course, that won’t help if it’s an emergency, though. I’ve no solutions for that scenario.
True. There’s no longer a sense that someone is either busy or taking a break. Not unless they announce it in social media.
It’s not my answering machine for the landline. With my phone, it’s typically texts, so there’s no message option.
I have to say, I’m on the side of “screen your calls/silence your phone while working.” It just sounds like you need to have quiet time to focus.
I have no control over the landline. That’s where the gamble calls come from. I can’t afford to miss calls from doctors or school districts. Otherwise, I can be left out of important conversations or miss essential info about upcoming events. With my cellphone, I can’t leave it off. Typically, my son is with his mom when I’m doing a writing day. I need to be around in case I get a text because missing those lead to headaches.