by Lisa Jordan
I glanced at my calendar to see what today’s to-do list entailed. I saw I had a blog post due for Seekerville. I’d been pondering a topic, but nothing concrete had come to mind. I decided to work on something else and then I’d go back to the blog post.
As I began working on my characters’ backstories for my new novel, I sneezed, reached for a tissue, and realized I had grabbed the last one. So I broke down the box, tossed it in the recycling and went to retrieve a new box. But along the way, my dog needed to go outside, so I took her to the door. On the way back to get the box of tissues, I noticed an empty dish in the living room. I grabbed it and took it to the kitchen. I set it in the sink and realized I had started to brew a cup of tea but never finished it. I carried the reheated tea back to my writing chair and started to sit when my dog scratched at the door to come back inside. I let her in, gave her a treat, then refilled her water dish. On the way back from the kitchen I glanced at the few dishes in the sink and decided to put them in the dishwasher. But first I needed to empty it. As I emptied the dishwasher, a puddle of water from an upturned bowl spilled on the floor. So I grabbed a towel and wiped it up. I tossed the towel in the bathroom hamper and noticed my hair brush still on the counter. I put it away, then decided to give the bathroom a quick wipe-down. I returned to the kitchen, finished the dishwasher, and reloaded the few dirty dishes. I gave the counters a quick wipe, then headed back to my computer. I sat, grabbed my cup of tea, and then sneezed again.
I had forgotten to grab the fresh box of tissues.
Okay, I admit not all of my days go like this. I can be pretty linear with my to-do list—I focus on one job until it’s done. However, there are days when my mental train of thought would be a good plot for Laura Numeroff’s If You Give… series. And the same goes when it’s time to write. If I’m not focused on that day’s particular goal, I’m as distracted as Dug in Up.
So how’s a writer to distance himself or herself from distractions when the writing needs to get done?
Many of us who frequent Seekerville on a regular basis have multitudes of distractions every day. We have spouses, families, careers, additional day jobs, church responsibilities, pets, community engagements, and extracurricular activities to manage.
I’m the kind of person who needs to plan out my day. If I don’t, then I don’t have the right focus to get things done. I also like a routine, and that goes for my writing as well. I don’t thrive in chaos. So when life throws curveballs, I do try to be flexible by rolling with flare-ups need to be dealt with that day.
When I’m on deadline, though, I need focused time to get my writing done so I can submit on time. So here are my four tips for distancing distractions:
- Plan. Like I said, I’m a planner. I use My Book Therapy’s My Brilliant Writing Planner to map out my story goals, my monthly appointments, events, and deadlines. Then I break down my monthly goals into weekly to-dos. Each day, I write out a to-do list of what needs to be done. I begin with the top three important tasks, then I add in less important things such as housework and laundry.
- Pray. Once I have an idea of what my week is going to be, I give it up to God and ask Him to order my time. I also ask for peace when I need to be flexible and not to stress when I don’t meet my writing goals for the day. Most of all, I want to stay centered in His will and use my time wisely.
- Pause. When it’s time to write, I pause to reflect on what I had written the day before and where I need to take my characters on their story adventures. Then I pause notifications on email, social media, texting, and phone calls. My phone is set up to allow my family to notify me if it’s important.
- Protect. In addition to being an author, I’m also the content manager for My Book Therapy’s online writing school, Novel Academy, so I don’t have all day to write. I’ve always worked an additional day job along with my writing, so I’ve had to protect my writing time. I try to write for two hours in the mornings when my brain is the freshest, then I can use the rest of the day for housework, appointments, and my day job. In order to get the words written, I need to protect that writing time. Sometimes that writing block does get interrupted, but I usually know in advance and can plan a separate writing block accordingly so I can still meet my word count.
These habits, while not perfect, have helped me to establish the necessary boundaries and writing routine in order to grow my career.
Your Turn: What do you do to distance distractions so you can get words on the page.
Mindy here. Lisa is giving away a copy of her new release, The Father He Deserves, to one lucky commenter (US mailing addresses only, please).
Heart, home, and faith have always been important to Lisa Jordan, so writing stories with those elements come naturally. Represented by Cynthia Ruchti of Books & Such Literary Management, Lisa is an award-winning author for Love Inspired, writing contemporary Christian romances that promise hope and happily ever after. Her latest book, The Father He Deserves, releases in July 2021. She is the content manager for Novel Academy, powered by My Book Therapy. Happily married to her own real-life hero for over thirty years, Lisa and her husband have two grown sons. When she isn’t writing, Lisa enjoys quality family time and being creative with words, photos, fibers, and papers. Learn more about her at lisajordanbooks.com.