Write on, Wednesday: Getting Distracted

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By Leslie Lindsay

I am a stay-at-home writer who mothers.  I should have all kinds of time to pound out the Great American Novel, yes?  But I don’t.  Have time.  Or the Great American Novel. 

Here’s why:  life is busy.  You know that, I know that.  Your brother’s hampster knows that.  (Which is sort of how I feel sometimes–a hampster going round and round in their little sqeaky wheel).  Not only do I have two kids under the age of 8, but I have a house to maintain, a fridge to stock, a body to keep in shape (somewhat), and toilet’s cleaned.  All of this takes time.

I also have a non-fiction book floating around out there that constantly needs hand-holding, not unlike the freshman who just went off to college.  Calls for money (read: marketing),  how to sort laundry (read: connecting with the right readership), and what to do when the sorority girls are being bitchy (read: adult bullies who hate that you are stepping on their toes).  Yes, I have a lot to do. 

Seems I am not the only writer who has distractions.  The most recent issue of Writer’s Digest talks about just that.  The article is actually about writer’s block, but we can all benefit from the wisdom  gleaned in this issue when you spin it the right way.  Here goes:

  • Willpower.  You know what I mean.  Do I have the donut or the wheat-grass shake?  Sure, we can’t all be in the zone (the donut)  but we can carve out time to write, even if what comes out is like wheat grass on the screen.
  • Discipline versus Distraction.  Okay, this is the heart of the matter.  We get mail all the time–electronic distractions such as Facebook, email, IM/texting, phones, all the time.  We can’t respond to those distractions every time they come.  We would literally  get nothing done.  So, best to be disiplined.  Say, “I can’t check my email till this chapter/scene is done…at least a first draft.”  
  • Reacting versus Creating.  It takes time and skill to craft something new.  Do that when you are most fresh.  And I am not talking ‘freshly showered,’ but mentally sharp.  When you need to react, do so when  you aren’t as sharp.  So, stave off those needs to respond to an email at the peak of your creative time.  Do that when  you are least creative, but still “sharp-enough.” In case you are wondering:  I am best from about 10-4pm and after that, forget it.  That’s when I take care of household things and read–because reading fills my creative cup. 

Handle your distractions:

  • Know when your peak times are.  You may have to fit your writing around a day job, or you may have to write when  you can…and that may not be ideal for your creativity, but you will find your groove. 
  • Make sure you get plenty of exercise, water, and protein.  It helps your brain think.
  • Think about telling your story to a single reader.  It helps you focus in a real and meaningful way.
  • Keep your writing sessions short.  Folks say that 90 minutes of focused work time is best.  After that, your mind doesn’t process as well.  And remember, your brain is made to process inforamtion, not recall it verbatium.  Give your self a d break …

But, Write on, Wednesday! 

 

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