When Writing Turns You Antisocial

‘I was yet to learn what an enormous discipline writing requires. It is as vastly rewarding as it is demanding. It requires you to be still, to listen to each word as it wraps around a thought. I have to exist completely in another world for as long as it takes for the story to be told. I write for about nine to ten hours a day without disturbance, therefore I have to move from society in these times – telephones, the day’s mail, meals, the price of milk… my mind never wanders form the page. I respect what I am doing. I am willing to protect this creative moment and can give up friendships for it, even permanently. I have never regretted claiming this sort of space.’ – Yvonne Vera

Writing can really make you appear antisocial. At the start of the year, I made the decision that I was going to give this writing thing a serious try so I’ve had to change my writing habits. More and more of each day is dedicated to sitting at my desk with the phone turned off and the wireless disabled so that I can concentrate. I doubt my friends understand what I mean when I say I can’t go out because I’m in the middle of a story, but that’s just where my priorities lie at the moment. I find myself arguing with timelines in my head when I’m supposed to be listening in class. I can stare at a page in a novel I’m reading for 10 minutes because a line made me think about some part of my writing I’m struggling with.

The hardest part is creative nonfiction. When I am writing a short story, I can turn it off when I go to work or I’m working on my honors thesis. With nonfiction, it just never goes away because everywhere I go, I start to think about how I could turn my encounters into a narrative. I’m finding it hard to get anything else done because my mind keeps wandering back to my stories.

I remember reading a quote once that said winners are not nice people because when they’re at work, nothing else matters. That’s the space I’m in right now. All I can think about are words and getting them down on paper. Nothing else matters. I’m claiming my time and space, giving myself room to write.

Is this what being a writer is about? Having stories constantly swirling in your head? Not being able to sleep because the words insist on being put down? I’m not sure, but I’m loving every minute of it.

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