You’ve gotten distracted???
Hey, don’t beat yourself up. Distractions happen. If you’re a writer who’s . . . well, to put it bluntly, not dead, then you can expect the unexpected to crop up unexpectedly and throw a monkey wrench into your perfectly planned writing schedule.
Yep, distractions come to us all. And they come in many forms. Some may be minor snags. Others have the potential to throw you out of sync for days at a time.
Some distractions are outside our control:
- A sick child.
- A hungry spouse.
- Car trouble.
- Your boss drops an urgent project on your desk and wants it finished yesterday.
- The computer freezes and you lose half a day’s work.
- Your in-laws announce they’re arriving for a lengthy visit.
- The water heater springs a leak and floods the whole first floor.
- A storm knocks out power and Internet.
- Your kids need you to babysit the grandkids.
- Your grandchild threw up on the carpet.
- Your dog threw up on the carpet.
- You need to take your dog and/or grandchild to the vet and/or doctor.
- You trip over the basketball-size dust bunny that rolled out from under the bed and require a trip to the ER.
- That little computer chime announces you have new e-mail.
- A research rabbit trail grabs your attention and won’t let go.
- The first warm, sunny day of the season beckons you outside to do gardening.
- The newest version of Angry Birds just became available.
- Your favorite author just posted a new blog.
- You really need to see what your Facebook and Twitter friends have been up to.
- The postman just delivered the latest Lands’ End catalog.
- There’s an article in Romance Writers Report you can’t wait to read because you heard one of your favorite Seekers was quoted in it.
But what’s even more important than the distractions themselves is how you deal with them. There are two possible responses:
- Admit distractions are inevitable, handle them efficiently as they arise, and then get right back on track.
- Run screaming into the night, cursing the day you ever signed up for Speedbo because now that X has happened, you will NEVER get this book finished and you might as well go ahead and deal with Y and Z, and maybe A, B, and C as well, because your schedule is already down the tubes and it’s all hopeless anyway.
I have found the only sure way out of this black hole of discouragement is to continually remind myself that distractions--all the ups and downs and craziness and frustration--means I’m alive. As long as I’m a functioning human being, engaged in the real world, living a full life, I’m going to experience distractions and interruptions.
And anyway, “real life” is where some of my best story ideas come from!
So, yes, when distractions arise, especially those that are outside our control, we often have no choice but to face them head-on. Nurse your sick child. Feed your hungry husband (or show him how to work the microwave). Take your computer to the shop. Do whatever needs to be done, accept it as part of life, and--most importantly!--file the experience away for possible use as a scene in your next book.
As for the distractions you could control, when you’re tempted by the Internet or e-mail or the latest smartphone app, maybe the best thing to do is to go ahead and spend five or ten minutes on whatever activity is calling your name. Consider it a mini-vacation to unfreeze your brain for the next round of writing. Set a timer if you need to, but then log off, unplug, close the magazine, or end the phone call, and return to your work-in-progress. I promise, it’ll still be right there waiting for you.
What’s your greatest distraction? Is it within or outside your control? What’s your best strategy for dealing with this particular distraction, and how do you get back into the writing groove?
Don’t forget, we’re giving away lots of books and critiques this month, so don’t be left out! Join the discussion to be eligible for the weekly drawings!
Today is another day of our March Speedbo. Find out more about Speedbo and our exciting weekly prizes here. Comment today for a chance to win! Winners announced in the Weekend Edition.