5 Biggest Distractions

Writing is a joy. I’m not being sarcastic here. The creativity of writing–letting the muse take me away on an adventure–is better than all the drugs in the world!

In my youth, I imagined the life of a writer. A nice office with a massive oak desk built in the late nineteenth century, the latest in technology to capture the sacred words and put them to paper, an awesome sound system that would play only the best music while I typed. I’d wear my best tweed jacket (you know, the one with the brown leather elbow patches?) and wax philosophical upon the page.

Blissful sigh.

The reality is a laptop at the dining room table, plugged into my iPod Touch and wearing boxer shorts and a t-shirt. Alternatively it’s a laptop at the local cofffee shop, plugged into my iPod Touch and watching all the funny people walk by on the street. (Wearing more than the boxer shorts in the latter scenario I might add!)

No tweed jacket in sight.

Why didn’t anybody tell me writing was work?

Okay, it’s not really all that much work. I love what I do. The problem isn’t so much making time to do it as it is using the time that I have available.

Here are my five biggest writing distractions.

It’s All About Me

The first is the worst, and the first is little ol’ me.

I’m my worst enemy when it comes to writing. You would think that because I derive so much pleasure from the act of writing that I’d actually do it more often.

Such is not the case.

Maybe it’s a subconscious fear of success, I don’t know.

The only way to get past this is to set a daily word count goal and stick to it come Hell or high water. Most days I’m successful. Some days not so much. (Last year was very not-so-much.)

Until It’s Not About Me

Inevitably, Life (with a capital L) happens.

You’re kicking butt on the word count when BAM! Someone in the family is sick. The cat just ate the neighbor’s dog. Your garbage disposal upchucked all over your kitchen, you’ve just had word that the in-laws are coming to dinner…and you’re manifesting Mother Hubbard and her cupboard.

The best of intentions, right?

While there’s nothing to be done for the family emergencies that crop up during life, with a little prior planning they might not be as devastating to the writing.

Take my word count. A thousand words a day. The majority of the time I make about fourteen hundred words in my allotted writing time. That gives me an extra twenty-eight grand in the bank at the end of a week!

Just don’t fall into the habit of using those extra words as excuses to skip your writing schedule! That trap is a never-ending spiral down to the ZERO word count.

It’s About Someone Else

While this is related to family emergencies, it’s less about your disruptive life than it is about your coworkers’.

Let’s be honest. Few of us can afford to write full-time. And the day job eats up a lot of productive hours.

It devours even more when you’re called in on your day off.

Suddenly you’ve inherited your coworker’s problems. You cast a final longing stare at your computer before you head out the door in a flurry of fresh-washed uniforms and hastily packed lunches.

About the only thing to counteract this is to work for yourself…or win the lottery!

The Idiot Box

I’ve worked hard all week! I even worked an extra four hours because of a call off. I’ve put in twelve hundred words a day which gives me a little leeway, right?

I deserve to watch an hour of Chuck on Netflix! I do! Just one hour and then I’ll get in my word count.

That episode was good! (Check the clock.) I can squeeze in another…

Cliffhanger! But what happens next?

Hey! What happened to the time? Whaddya mean I have to get ready for work?

I haven’t gotten my word count for today!

Would You Like To Play A Game?

(Or perhaps this subheading should be called “The Idiot Box, Redux.”)

I’ve recently picked up a PlayStation 3 and I can safely say that I’m addicted to Terraria. Coming home after a long night of work to mine for goods and slay monsters is quite relaxing.

Only problem? It cuts into my television time.

Which means I can’t see my favorite shows unless I watch them during the day.

Writing? Who has time to write? I’ve got to catch that last episode of “Gotham” and clean the toilet before I leave for work. Somebody called off again!

Squirrell!

Yep, distractions. Love to hate ’em. I’m not the only one either. I bet a lot of you reading this have agreed with at least two of my five biggest distractions.

What keeps you from doing what you love? What insidious diversion pops up at the least opportune time, sending your train of intention off the rails and into the station in a massive pile-up of boxcars?

Better yet, what do you do to siderail those distractions so they cause the least amount of damage?

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11 thoughts on “5 Biggest Distractions

  1. My biggest distractions are my disabilities. I can spend so much time going to doctor appointments, physical therapy, (doing my PT exercises at home), and scheduling all my treatments, and med breaks, that without constant vigilance, it takes up my day. However, it’s just a matter of scheduling well and getting pen on paper, or more likely, BICFOK…..butt in chair, fingers on keyboard! Ona

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    1. I realized, this list left out little things like going to work, scheduling transportation and feeding one’s self…but those are assumed.

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  2. My biggest distraction right now is my house. I still have boxes I haven’t unpacked and no place to put the 6 boxes of books I hauled out here to Florida from California. I have cut back expenses and have been able to retire, fortunately. I have been able to become a full time writer finally! I am writing now at my new love’s house. She has a business and works in the mornings; I commute to the kitchen table and work while she is at work – getting much more done. I’m in the editing stages of my first book and there isn’t a real word count to adhere to. Just trying to get those chapters edited and a new chapter and ending written. She is threatening to charge me for a writer’s retreat here, but is very supportive and I couldn’t ask for more than that.

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    1. BJ, it’s good that you’ve scheduled time. Having it coincide with someone else’s day job hours is a pretty good idea, too!

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  3. OMG I totally relate to this blog. My distractions might be checking in on Facebook now and again. I don’t know why. I’m trying to be better about just logging out and leaving it off. But then I got this thing called Netflix streaming. Dammit. And then there’s all the other stuff I do for distraction. “hmmm…I should probably totally mop the floor right now…hell, don’t I need to go to the store? And didn’t I want to look for my baseball glove?”

    The neverending story.

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    1. Andi, I hear you about FB. I got back from a four day weekend at a SF convention and spent most of the first day home parked on FB…like I couldn’t catch up on everyone’s news in a half hour.

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  4. Oh I could write a whole novel on distractions and the lovely head procrastination rearing up. Then I would have yet another destruction to write about…a vicious cycle indeed….LOL!
    But seriously I have used setting daily timeslot to get my 2000+word count in from Mon to Fri keeping my weekends for family days… yup I’m unemployed so I can indulge in this schedule. I have also learned to set other scheduled activities like yoga practices daily to stay focused and disciplined. So far it has worked but every now and again LIFE says it needs my attention more and writing gets pushed back… not out but later than originally scheduled.

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  5. Great blog entry, Jordan! I can relate.

    My biggest distraction is e-mail. Since I’m not just a writer but also an editor, I probably write (and receive) at least 50+ e-mails on an average day.

    When I first gave up my day job to write full time, I wasn’t as productive as I wanted…until I learned not to check my e-mail before I met my daily word count goal.

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    1. Jae, OMG, Email! What a joy and a pain, right? I can relate to forcing myself not to check it. For the longest time, I’d write at coffee shops and refuse to use the free wifi just so I wouldn’t get tempted.

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