Me, I like—no, need—peace and quiet. I’m the dog who spies a squirrel, the least little movement will take me out of my story and send me on a wild chase in the opposite direction. If I’m sitting in Starbucks and hear a couple talking at the table next to me, instead of writing, I’ll listen to them and invent a story of their lives. I’m here to tell you, it wreaks havoc on my word count.
For a lot of years, ever since my kids grew up and moved away, finding peace and quiet hasn’t been a problem. I have a great home office that I’ve arranged and decorated for maximum productivity. I was also alone five days a week and able to accomplish a lot. When my husband was around, I’d muddle through, deflecting his constant interruptions as best I could (he’s as bad as any three-year-old poking my shoulder and chanting, “Mom, Mom, Mom.”).
All that changed a couple months ago when he retired early—three years early! Suddenly, I found myself in serious trouble, unable to write like I was used to. With three deadlines looming. I became stressed, irritable, frustrated, and not very pleasant to be around.
Long story short (yes, pun intended), I came up with a plan that is helping. My local library is usually crowded and not particularly quiet. But I discovered they have private study rooms I can reserve for up to two hours. These are wonderful! I get so much done in those two hours because I know my time is limited and I need to make the most of it. I also purchased a pair of Blutooth earbuds. If I listen to music (jazz is my favorite for writing), I’m less distracted by what’s going on around me. These also work well if I sit in a secluded corner of the not-very-busy independent coffee shop I sometimes frequent out of desperation—i.e., husband is very talkative that day. Lastly, the assistant facility where my mom lives has several quiet and cozy reading nooks. I visit her twice a week, so sometimes I go early, find an available nook, and dash off a few pages.
No, none of these solutions compare to my much loved home-office. But they are helping and, as a result, I’m less stressed, irritable, and frustrated. With luck, I may even make my three deadlines!