The other day a dear friend was on the road alone for hours, driving from Kansas to Arkansas, when she called. It was 10:30 am. I’ve gotten into the habit of not answering my phone when I’m writing, but I made an exception. Why was she calling in the middle of the day? Maybe something was wrong.
When she asked what I was doing, I said, “I’m working.”
This took her aback. “Whoa. What?”
“Working. You know, writing.”
“Oh,” she said, laughing. “You scared me there for a minute. I thought you got a job!”
Which reminded me that the only person I say the words “I’m working” to is my husband. Every morning, we ask each other what do you have going on today? and I’m always very clear. “I’m walking the old dogs, running with JoJo, and then I’m working,” I might say.
He never laughs.
I rarely, if ever, say those words to anyone else.
My neighbors know when I’m writing because they see the lights on at the strangest hours, and they might spot me in the yard picking up dog-poo at 2 pm … in my robe … and say over the fence, “Are you writing? How’s it going?” (love them) Don’t get me wrong. I’m a realist. I’m well aware that I’m not catching the train at six or chairing meetings or bringing home a check that pays my mortgage (thank you, husband, with a job) but if I don’t take this seriously and call it work and get it done, who will?
For the last few weeks, I’ve said the words I’m working on a regular basis. Every day. And guess what? I’m working more. I’m even working on Saturdays and Sundays, and often at 5 am. Maybe it’s like boys who pee in a circle to mark their territory. By saying the words out loud I’m carving out my space — uninterruptible time — when I go to my “office” and shut the door.
I forget who said, There is no writers block, there is just not writing. It’s not the internet or social media or email or other distractions that are keeping me from carving out my space. It’s just me, not taking it seriously enough to call it work. It’s just me, not writing.