Escape Your Writing Distractions

book by MargoLike many of my friends and compadres, I have a wish list. Right up there at the top is beloved, prize-winning novelist. Yes, beloved. I want my readers to love me. Unfortunately, that isn’t going to happen unless I publish a novel.

I do have a finished manuscript that is crying to be heard. All I have to do is tweak it–a lot. How hard could that be?

My writing day goes something like this. I pull up my manuscript and begin to read, trying to get a feel for my pacing. A beep heralds a pop-up on the screen with my latest email. Hmm. Maybe I should deal with that before I go any further.

You see where this is leading? The first thing I need to do, if I can’t ignore the distraction, is turn off the message pop-up. Emails, though they need to be handled, are not vital. If something is world-shattering, I’ll get a phone call. And, that brings me to the next irritating distraction, the phone.

Some people have distinctive ring tones for those close to them. That’s a pretty good idea, because if the call isn’t from a significant source, you don’t have to bother with it. And, if it is from someone on you’re A-list, it can probably wait until your momentum plays out.

2013-01-16 08.40.40Sometimes, we’re not even aware of the many distractions that pull us away from our work.

I have two cats who often demand my time — one loves to play and will jump on my desk to try and recruit me. He’s persistent and aggravating. The other spends most of his time sleeping, but sounds off if he wants me to open a window or if it’s close to feeding time. Neither animal cares about me or the fact that I’m in the middle of averting some earth-shattering crisis.

If it isn’t the cats disturbing me, it’s the man I love.Us at Fenway

My husband always pops into the office after work to say hello and give me a kiss. Nice! I love it, but the kiss usually paves the way for a question.

“Are you writing?”

“Yes, I am.”

“Good. Have you seen my whatever?”

Now, I have to stop what I’m doing to try and figure out where I last saw the stupid whatever. It finally comes to me. But, when he looks and can’t find it, I have to join in the hunt. All right, I don’t have to join in, but I can’t stand wondering if he really checked everywhere. You know, like looking underneath things. By this time, I am so out of my story, I often give up.

Thankfully, I’m not always that distracted. Sometimes I’m deep in the zone where I can ignore most of the chaos. But, on days when my concentration is barely contained, I need help. That’s when I run away. EscapeYup. Some days I have to run away from home to get any writing done.

A few of my favorite writing escapes take place in surroundings where I can enjoy nature’s serenity. My back yard has served me well. Sharing my space with the comforting sounds of busy little critters relaxes me, and my Muse loves it. Also, since I’m lucky enough to live on the coast, any place where I can see the water has become a major source of inspiration. I drive to places like the beach where I can sit in my car, push back the seat, and listen to the crashing waves. Castle rock close upThere’s always paper and a pen in the glove compartment.

Sometimes I run to the library. Of course, I have to ignore all those interesting covers waving at me as I trek through to find a comfortable space, and I do hate it when the quiet is broken by the crack of someone’s voice. My last foray into the land of books ended shortly after I got there. I guess I was too close to the Help Desk.

I’ve had a lot of luck at coffee shops where the buzz of talk quickly melts into the background. The same has been true at the local Barnes & Noble bookstore. Lots of good writing gets done while I enjoy a hot cup of coffee. The downside of these last two? Friends. You’re liable to run into people you know who have to say, “Hi.” You could ask them not to bother you, but . . .

Then, there are the places where you usually have to wait: doctor’s offices, auto repair shops, hair dressers. Good time to use paper and pen.

For more serious writing time, like when you have a deadline, a weekend away from home may be what you need. I’ve taken myself to a motel for a few days of uninterrupted peace. I make sure to get a room where I can bring food, so I don’t have to break away from the flow of my ideas.

If you’re lucky enough to live in a distraction-free zone and don’t need a quick get-away to write your masterpiece, I applaud you. But for those of you who sometimes need thme Donald Maasse kind of solace that you can’t get at home, I’m with you. It took me a long time to realize that it was okay to run away from home. Now, whether it’s a few hours or a few days, escape has become a viable and valuable option.

Some links you may find interesting:

Do you have any favorite writing hideaways? If so, please share. I’d love to hear from you.

And, remember. . . Keep Writing.


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One thought on “Escape Your Writing Distractions

  1. Good post. It reminds me of all of my own distractions and weaknesses…and that I have the power to overcome and work around them, if only I consistently would! I love the pictures and the humor.

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