Writing is a solitary occupation, for the most part. There are collaborations with a team, but mostly it’s a single author working alone on a piece, fiction or not. Even with collaboration, you still are not socializing. You are working.
Most writers eat, sleep, work, and socialize. If you are a full-time writer, you equate work with writing. The rest of us have to add in writing to the list. So our pie chart of time is divided in five sections. Sleep and work are set. At least they are for me. I don’t write while sleeping or working. I don’t feel it is right to work on my fiction while on company time. That’s me. You may feel different. I can write and eat at the same time, but it isn’t easy. That leaves two fifths of your pie chart that you actually have control over, writing time and socializing.
Human beings are social animals. We need to socialize. Decide on which is more important, a social event or your writing and proceed accordingly. This is easily done in the case of holidays and parties. It is not so easily done with casual meet-ups and emergencies. We all get those every so often.
Emergencies are always top priority. You do what you need to do. It’s much harder to make decisions about the casual meet-ups that crop up. Do you leave your writing for a casual meet-up with a friend or family member? That’s a tougher call. Only you can tell what you need when a friend calls.
You can leave your writing and take a break. In fact, it is important to do so on a regular basis. Have a coffee with a friend. Go out to lunch with your sister. Just make sure they understand that you have that writing to do. Do you have a deadline? Make sure they understand that. Take the break. It’s good for your mental health as well as your relationship. Relationships need attention. You can’t live in a vacuum. So take the time to give the relationship attention. It’s important too. If someone calls you in the morning to invite you to lunch – well you have to eat anyway, right? Go ahead. Just maintain enough discipline to get back to your writing after lunch is over.
Writing takes discipline. You can be dedicated to your writing, but don’t be inflexible. Remember you need to socialize as much as you need to write – maybe more. Take mental notes of the socializing going on around you and use them for your characters. That little conversation between those people at the next table about what their kid did yesterday can be incorporated into your work, with suitable changes. Use your socializing as grist for your writing mill. Your characters will be better for it. Just be sure not to neglect the person you are socializing with but let them know how they can help you to make those mental notes. You can have your visit and grist for your writing mill.