I've been writing, and I'm using the word loosely, since I was a young child. It's always been my passion and it's always been what I do. And it wasn't until recently that I started thinking about what it must be like to be on the other side. When I asked someone close to me if it's hard to be a friend or family member of a writer, there was no hesitation. The answer was a strong "yes!" So maybe us writers ought to keep that in mind in the future. Don't forget about what it's like for your friends and family...because honestly, you're hard to live with.
I probably mutter "I'm busy" or "I'm writing" at least once a day to someone who's trying to talk to me. I don't look at the person I'm addressing. I can't, because I'm busy staring at the screen. I've shushed people, I've dismissively waved them away, I've allowed them to talk to me for upwards of 5 minutes at a time without informing them that I am not listening. It's rude, I know, but what can I say? When I'm writing, I'm not in this world. I'm in a different one...so who are all these people who are attempting to invade it?
Friends and family, usually. And like me, maybe you need to remember to look at things from their side, every so often.
The Other Side of the Screen
Honestly, I'm not all that familiar with what it's like to live with a writer or spend a lot of time with one, but I do know what I'm like with my friends and family. Sometimes, I have to skip out on events or shut myself in a room or stay up until all hours working on what I'm writing. My schedule varies from one day to the next. And when I get stuck, I'll just suddenly stand up and start pacing -- and it doesn't even matter where I am or if there's room to pace. I'll pace, no matter how small my area. I might talk out loud, or randomly start to cry, laugh completely out of context or just suddenly turn off the television and anything else that might be making noise. Sometimes, I can't deal with noise.
And while I don't live with a writer, I can imagine that all these things make it pretty darned hard to live with me...and lots of other writers who do similar stuff, too. Annoying quirks and scheduling difficulties like this are really just the tip of the iceberg.
Writers may also try to bounce ideas off people close to them, and they're definitely going to ask friends and family members to read something they've written. They might ask friends and family to buy something, to write reviews, to go around talking about the book, to get on Twitter -- they're your friends and family, so you feel comfortable asking. But it's also probably annoying to those people, who are mostly just trying to watch videos on Facebook (or whatever).
I don't think about that stuff very often, but I should. And all writers probably should. Take the time, every so often, to thank your friends and family for their support. Apologize for all the times you've totally had to blow them off or lock the door. Think about things from their side, and make sure they understand that it has nothing to do with them. Writing is one of the hardest things anyone can do...so a little bad behiavor is probably to be expected.
For much better insights on this topic, visit friend of the blog Annalisa Crawford. She has a busy family life, and she's covered this topic in the past.