What are your top three distractions and how do you deal with them?
Note: I am writing this post on the road. Please forgive any typos.
A writer’s life is full of all kinds of distractions, which can make finding the time to develop ideas and getting out of one’s head and onto paper (or the screen) difficult. I have mentioned that time management can be an external factor hindering writing.
Damn those twenty-four hours in a day. They just won’t listen and become more. Authors have professional (novel writing is not the main source of income for most) and personal lives, each demanding energy and time. Finding sufficient time to develop a plot, construct character arcs and write content can be difficult. One cruel irony is that creative often burgeons when there is no time. Authors scramble to find a moment to weave a story, but frustration usually sets in when the brilliance blazing in their minds flickers into embers because that’s how it often works. Write right now or risk losing everything.
But even a writer who has carefully organized their writing time may find themselves unable to write because of outside demands. Things go down, and people say stuff that clouds the mind, making it hard to focus. I am a working, homeschooling mother. Heck yeah, my life is loaded with intrusions while I am in front of the keyboard. My creativity is frequently stalled and even stunted as my job, family and friends pressure me to fulfill expectations and needs. It gets rough. Fortunately, I have discovered some ways to mitigate the impact everything weighing on my shoulders has on my writing—most of the time.
Writing is my passion and work. Like many authors, I have streams of income in addition to book royalties. A girl has to eat. I contribute to multiple online media platforms and write for my author’s blog. Consequently, I spend almost every day writing at some capacity. I can’t escape it, not that I would want to.
A few weeks ago, my best friend heard the stress in my voice, and insisted that I fly down to Florida to relax at her home. She insisted that I leave my laptop on my desk. After whining, I agreed. I packed my bags and little ones and headed for warmer weather. I got to decompress and spend days without writing. Yeah, right. I was back and forth with a couple of editors and ended up begging her husband to let me use his computer. I was in Google Docs in less that twenty-four hours, writing and submitting articles. Guess where I am as I write this post. Go ahead.
Hold on. I have to email and interviewee…Okay. Where was I?
I struggle to make sure my professional writing demands don’t eat up my time and writing stamina. It’s not easy. I had to adjust my writing schedule so there are days devoted to my creative writing. It’s ironic. I do follow the general advice to “write every day.” It’s just not always fiction. I have to allot time for each in a way that allows me to shift between them. Some days, I am able to write a scene or chapter and then get the latest post to my editor, but I don’t push myself to produce both. I focus on my deadlines and write accordingly.
Hold on. I have to email an editor…Okay. Where was I?
Sometimes, I have to negotiate and include additional writing requests like proposals. They require more time adjustments. I rely on the project management app Asana for work and Google Keep for everything else.
OMG! If I hear my name one more time. My children range in ages from seven to twenty-one. All of them require my time and attention. I teach my little ones and manage their needs. I also have a teenage son and two sons and one daughter who are new adults. None of them are one-hundred-percent self-sufficient. Sooner or later, somebody is going to want mom’s help.
Sometimes my little ones need more attention. They may get sick or hurt or just want their mother. Additionally, my big kids come to me with big problems. My oldest son threw a whole fiancee and wedding at me in less than a month.
There are days that I sit at my keyboard at the scheduled time to let my creative juices flow, only to have constant “Mommy/Mom/Ma” interruptions. They don’t care that I am in the middle of pivotal scene. They need my attention, and they are damn sure going to get it.
I want to be the best mother and writer I can. I pivot to my little succubi but also learned to close my office door. I taught them that when that door is closed, whoever opens it better be bleeding—a lot.
I can’t think around clutter. Sadly, I married a pack rat and also gave birth to a few. Our house is a hub for people living varying lives as well as a educational institution. It is hard to get all the books, papers, clothes, etc. under control.
I often have to make tough choices between my writing and the state of my house. Some days, I just kick the shoes out of my way in the hallway and sit to get out an intense scenes. I drown out the noise and clutter, setting up my author’s blinders until I write what has been burning in my mind. When the mess around me is just too much, I turn off my laptop and pick up a broom.
I use my time cleaning to work through scenes and character development, stopping to make notes. Once my home is temporarily restored, I get back to work.
Distractions are not always a bad thing. They may be cues that it is time to push away from the desk and engage in life.