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Interruptions

  • To my mother who thinks it doesn't interrupt if she whispers.

    • Edna Ferber,
    • book dedication, in Adela Rogers St. John, Some Are Born Great ()
  • The fact is, both callers and work thicken — the former sadly interfering with the latter.

    • George Eliot,
    • letter (1852), in J.W. Cross, ed., George Eliot's Life as Related in Her Letters and Journals ()
  • ... a writer has no business with interruptions, and until she learns to classify them under two simple heads, she can make small headway. The first classification to which 'Disturb me' may be added in capitals, would comprise the falling of any or all children into any or all wells, the biting of any or all children by one or more rattlesnakes, and fire. All the others go into the second group, 'Do not disturb me.'

  • I find that when I have any appointment, even an afternoon one, it changes the whole quality of time. I feel overcharged. There is no space for what wells up from the subconscious; those dreams and images live in deep still water and simply submerge when the day gets scattered.

  • Lunches are just not good. They take the heart out of the day and the spaciousness from the morning's work.

  • I am furious at all the letters to answer, when all I want to do is think and write poems. ... I long for open time, with no obligations except toward the inner world and what is going on there.

  • [To a woman whose cellphone rang during a formal meeting:] You'd better answer that. It could be someone important.

  • Never interrupt an artist in the middle of his work! You are inflicting agony upon him.

  • Real life has a tendency to interfere with our drive to be efficient.

  • How anybody with one kid ever finds a chance to get another beats me. I never laid down with you in my life but some kid comes busting in.

  • Time is life. Anyone who wastes my time is killing me. Please don't!

  • It is the leisured, I have noticed, who rebel the most at an interruption of routine.

  • ... When you take my time, you take something I had meant to use ...

  • It might have happened sooner had I had a room of my own and fewer children, but somehow I doubt it. For as I look back on what I have written, I can see that the very persons who have taken away my time and space are those who have given me something to say.

  • ... I was always supposed to be at home when friends and acquaintances came out to see me; it would have been unkind not to receive them. Nevertheless, I was sometimes annoyed when in the midst of a difficult [mathematical] problem someone would enter and say 'I have come to spend a few hours with you.'

  • One cannot see callers, answer the telephone, go to luncheons or dinners, visit the dentist or shoemaker, address charitable organizations in or from a bed; therefore a bed, in my experience, is simply bristling with ideas.

  • Some day some one will write a book about that frantic search of the creative worker for silence and freedom, not only from interruption but from the fear of interruption.

  • I'm always aware that I risk being taken for a neurasthenic prima donna when I explain to someone who wants 'just a little' of my time that five minutes of the wrong kind of distraction can ruin a working day.

  • To you who vex me while I write / And at my pen do gently bite, / To you I will this verse indite.

  • Nevertheless, hateful as saying 'No' always is to an imaginative person, and certain as the offence may be that it will cause to individuals whose own work does not require isolated effort, the writer who is engaged on a book must learn to say it. He must say it consistently to all interrupters; to the numerous callers and correspondents who want him to speak, open bazaars, see them for 'only' ten minutes, attend literary parties, put people up, or read, correct and find publishers for semi-literate manuscripts by his personal friends.

  • Have you ever noticed that life consists mostly of interruptions, with occasional spells of rush work in between?

    • Chao Buwei Yang,
    • in Yuenren Chao, trans., Autobiography of a Chinese Woman ()
  • Give yourself the gift of uninterrupted time. It can be the first hour of your day. Or the last hour. A lunch hour. You want time free from phone calls, visitors, mail, things to read. Unplug the phone if you have to. Lock your door. Put a sign on it that warns people of the consequences of entering. Do what you have to and watch the results. One hour of uninterrupted time can double a person's productivity for the day.

  • Recollect that to a woman who gets her living by her pen, 'time is money,' as it is to an artist. Therefore, encroaching on her time is lessening her income. And yet how often is this done (either heedlessly or selfishly) by persons professing to be her friends, and who are habitually in the practice of interrupting her in her writing hours ...

  • Sometimes I would almost rather have people take away years of my life than take away a moment.

  • Every day I write. If there is ever an interruption, like an electric-meter man or a doorbell ringing, it drives me crazy. I don't care how many people call me up, but I don't want anyone near me physically. I don't want to see anyone. I'm just absolutely closed in, and I get more so as the years go by, more and more loving of privacy.

  • [Notice on the door of the room where she wrote:] This room is used for work / Do not enter without knocking / After you knock, wait for an answer / If you get no answer, go away and don't come back / This means everybody / This means you / This means night or day. Court-martialling will take place in the barn, and your trial will not be a fair one.

  • ... time spent in being interrupted is not time lost. ... How do we know but that the interruption we snarl at is the most blessed thing that has come to us in long days?

  • 'Interruption,' he said sternly, 'is a form of contempt.'

  • Distractions are infinite. It's a way of staying in the old place.

  • There are times ... when any visitor — in person, by phone, by mail — is an intruder, a burglar, a space hogger, an oxygen taker, a chaos maker, a conflict inducer, a mood chaser, and a total drag.

  • I am always disturbed when someone catches me on the wing and asks me if I don't want to do something. I want to answer: 'I never want to do anything, at any time, except to continue what I am already doing until I have finished it.'

  • ... studies indicate that the average manager is interrupted every eight minutes!

  • Everything distracted me, but most of all myself.