Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go. ~ E. L. Doctorow

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Writer Enemy No. 1: Distraction


Man, having your momentum rip away feels like someone is sucking the life out of you with a vacuum.  I submitted a short story for my writer’s group, showed up and endured the critique torture, finished my novel and put a blog post up all in a few days.  The progress had me skipping around and humming tunes.  Unfortunately, the expiration date on my happiness came sooner than expected. 

My stretches of concentration are short.  I spend most of my time distracted by an endless amount of things.  As a newbie to the writing life, I battle daily with my ability to maintain focus.  But I fear if I don’t get myself under control soon, I will never see lucrative success. So, at the moment I’m learning to clear some hurdles.

To put it mildly, I have an addiction to televsion. Whether I’m streaming live from Netflix or catching up on shows piling up on the DVR, it’s embarrassing.  I see a support group in my future.  Luckily, this one is the easiest of my obstacles to overcome.  The movies and shows rotting my brain aren’t going anywhere.  So, I try to award myself with TV after I’ve accomplished all my daily goals.  Setting up a work area in a location sans TV proves helpful as well.    

I admit I’m not an impressive blog post idea generator.  Other blogs provide a wealthy source of topics to discuss and comment on in my own posts.  Plus, reading and commenting on other blogs gets my name out there and increases my blog traffic.  Unfortunately, a few minutes turns into an hour wasted not doing my own writing.  Setting a time limit helps me stay focused.   

I peruse the Writer’s Digest and Poets and Writers pages on Facebook in the morning before I begin my writing.  They post interesting blogs and current news in the writing community, which in turn provide me with topics to explore in my blog posts.  Then the next thing you know, an hour has flown by and I’m now cyber-stalking and commenting on friends’ statuses.  What I should do is wait until my daily blog has been written.  I can use the information I glean from these sites to write future posts.  Setting a time limit is key.   

Emotional Turmoil
As a sensitive person, my emotions tend to dictate my writing momentum.  This is my biggest struggle.  When I’m upset about something, I can forget getting any work done.  I’m caught in its Debbie Downer clutches, over analyzing and creating hypothetical situations.  My journal helps me exorcise the demons just long enough to get some work done, but it doesn’t always cut it.  In the meantime, I need to deal with the problems when they happen instead of pushing them aside. 

One other helpful trick is to make a list of tasks I want to accomplish for the day.  Crossing off the completed ones boosts my motivation.  I know I’m not alone in the day-to-day fight to stay on track, so tell me:
What in your life keeps you from writing?  How do you avoid those distractions? 

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