As an author with a brain can that can only focus on one thing, distractions can be a big issue and interfere with my daily production. Which then sets me back which then makes me stressed which then boggles down my ability to write which then… well, you get the gist. I’m one of those who are easily distracted by one of a million things and it’s not always easy to remove all of the chatter and temptations of life. But, for me, if I want to finish a book on time I must deal with all the diversions that tempt me from my work.
People ask me quite frequently how I’m so prolific. Well, part of my ability to write so quickly is an overactive mind that keeps churning out ideas and words, part of it is being lucky enough to devote myself to my writerly job fulltime (and yes this is a job it is not a hobby), part of it is discipline (backside in chair every day), and part of it is ridding myself of distractions.
Today I’ll touch on a few of the things that tend to pull me from work and how I deal with them.
Facebook – This is one of my biggest time wasters. I really enjoy spending time on Facebook chatting with my friends and family, sharing silly chicken memes with folks, talking Rangers hockey, and interacting with my readers. Sadly, if I’m on Facebook all morning I’m not writing, so I’ve learned that I have to distance myself from social media. That means closing out the site completely. I usually do this in sixty minute blocks, then at the end of the block, I reward myself with a quick fly by of social media, a stretch of the old bones, and a fresh cup of yummy coffee. Mm, rewards. Yum!
Music – Yes, this one makes me sad. I really wish I could listen to music as I write. It would be so inspirational to have a thundering rock ballad blaring during an action scene, or a soft love ballad playing during romantic times, but alas, I cannot. Anything with lyrics pulls me out of the story and into the song so completely that I have ended up typing lyrics instead of the words intended for the story. Luckily, I have found one album that I can listen to, the soundtrack for Call Me by Your Name, but when anything that Sufjan Stevens sings come on, I have to pause, sing along, and then get back to work. How silly is this brain of mine?!
TV – Yep, this is also a big distraction for me. If I’m in the same room with someone watching television, or even hear it through the wall, my focus is shot. So, to combat the TV bugaboo I simply do not turn it on while I’m writing. That works well during the week as it’s just me, my dog, the two cats, the chickens, and geese. None of the critters are into daytime TV so my weekdays are boob tube free. Now the weekends are a whole different kettle of fish as my husband is home. Fortunately he’s one of those guys who can’t sit still for long, so he’s generally outside doing something in the morning when I do the bulk of my writing. We then have the afternoons and evenings to watch TV together which works out quite well unless there’s a dispute over what to watch but that’s a different post for a different day. *winks*
Human Beings – This is one of the hardest distractions to avoid simply because we all have people in our lives who want to be with us and who we want to spend time with. As a parent with an adult child who lives on her own, I don’t have little ones who need my attention twenty-four/seven anymore. I honestly do not know how authors with small children ever get any writing done. I admire folks who juggle parenthood and being an author so much! That must the most difficult and skilled balancing act ever and I tip my hat to every author mom and author dad out there.
As I said in the TV section, my husband works out of the house so my days are mine. That’s a huge boon to my creative time and word counts. When he’s home at night I’m usually done with work so I can spend the evenings with him. Weekends require a bit more juggling, but we plot out work/home jobs so that I can work a few hours early (my release schedule requires me to be at the keyboard seven days a week for the most part) and then join him in whatever needs done or any plans we have. We’ve developed a routine that works for us. Your mileage may vary of course!
How do you deal with the distractions in your life? I’d love to hear your tips and tricks! Please feel free to share in the comment section below.
Jean C. Joachim says
I love how you reward yourself for an hour spent distraction free. I’m going to follow your lead. Also the part about closing down Fb. I think I have to do the same. It’s so easy to get distracted, especially when you’re writing a difficult scene. Thanks for the tips. Very helpful!