When You’re Distracted From Your Writing
Last week was tough: the bombing in Boston, explosion in Texas, the shootout and manhunt for the Boston suspects, earthquake in China, on and on.
I was horrified, and spent much of my day sending prayers and good thoughts to all those affected–and I was riveted to the news.
Some people turn off the TV and internet in such situations. Not me–I'll have the TV on and be sitting in front of it with my computer, checking both. Following the news and gathering information is how I process awful events.
(I'm pretty sure I got this from my Dad–he was always the first one out the door to see what was going on when a siren sounded and he was known to take his daughters to observe big news events like fires, several of which I remember vividly to this day.)
But sitting in front of the television does not get the writing done. And even when I turned it off and repaired to my office, it was challenging to turn off the thoughts about what was happening. Or stop myself from looking up the latest updates on the interwebs.
What's a writer to do?
I have a few ideas:
1. Know thyself. Are you, like me, someone who needs to know what is going on? Or do you thrive when you are oblivious? If the latter, turn things off. Period. If the former, try setting time limits–15 minutes of browsing the news and then its off to work for an hour.
2. Ground yourself. Nothing changes your demeanor–emotional and physical–by taking a few deep breaths. You can do this anytime, anywhere throughout the day. (The trick, of course, is remembering to do it.) When you get upset, breathe deeply and return to work.
3. Feel what you're feeling. In our rush to make ourselves feel better (and get back to work) we sometimes suppress our true feelings. This might make us feel better for awhile, but, alas, those feelings have a tendency to pop up all over again if we don't deal with them.
4. Inhale love and light. This is a variant of #2. With your feet flat on the ground, visualize rays of golden light coming in through your feet up to your heart. Now imagine golden rays of light coming in through your crown chakra and meeting in your heart. You can then use this to nourish yourself in a time of need or send loves to others who are in distress. (I'm not sure where this came from originally, but I got it from Anne Presuel.)
5. Connect with others. Yeah, I know. You're supposed to be writing. But are you getting any writing done while you sit there and fret? I think not. You might do better to take a bit of time to call or email a friend, or get on social media, and process some of your feelings.
I've written on this before, because it's an issue that constantly pops up. Other posts I've done on this topic:
How to Keep Writing Through Holidays and Other Distractions
Do you have a favorite way to deal with distraction? You'd be helping all of us out if you shared it in the comments.
Photo by Rennett Stowe.
0 thoughts on “When You’re Distracted From Your Writing”
Distracted? Did you say distracted? I count myself in the legends. Beyond the news, we’re about 2/3 of the way through the kitchen over haul. The contents of the cabinets are in three other rooms. I’m cooking in the microwave in the dinning room and “waltzing” with the fridge that in the middle of the dinning room floor. Add at least 2 to 3 weeks to go, and you have a major distraction.
Thanks for the reminders of how to handle it. ; )
I feel for you! Nothing more disruptive than having your home space torn up. I loved seeing the photos of your office on your blog, though!
For the most part, we can do nothing about such tragedies. We can, just as you did, pray! During natural disasters, we can give. When the news filling the headlines is political or celebrity or legal, I don’t see the point. I’ve been around for several decades, and despite periods of being super-informed, my influence on politics has been too small to measure. My point being many of us waste a great deal of time worrying about things we can’t change. Yes, with events like those in Boston, it is better if we suffer as a people. The load is lighter if we share it. Even then, it is difficult for me to write. I’m a much better writer when I seal myself off.
I think that's part of the reason events like Boston are so hard–because there's nothing we can co. But you're right, we can give and we can pray and that's a lot. I would prefer to be able to seal myself away to write, but it never seems to happen in my life, so I do the best I can with the circumstances I've got.
Patty/Living Deep Studio
Hi Charlotte – I’m one of those people who has to turn everything off when these things happen. After 9/11 I vowed I would never get sucked in like that again because I actually think it’s traumatizing. Of course, not in the same way as for the people who are there. And maybe that’s just me and I tend to be kind of sensitive to these things. One of the things I often talk about with my clients is how important it is to have a list of quick self-soothing activities for when you’re feeling worried and anxious. Maybe a short walk, a cup of tea, petting an animal, reading a beloved book, lighting a candle. And yes, breathing! The trick is actually doing these things. I have my own list and must admit I am not always good at following through.
Hi Patty, I think I get anxious not knowing what's going on. Your suggestions for self care are wonderful and helpful and yes I do find that remembering to do them is the hardest part.
Since I don’t have a particular writing regimen, it is very easy for me to get distracted. And of course, life’s tragedies and crises fall into their own category of “distractions,” don’t they? At some point, we need to give ourselves permission to step away from the computer and be directly engaged in life. At least I think so.
Yes indeed tragedies and crises do create their very own category–major distraction, in my book. And I agree with you, we do need to give ourselves permission to be directly engaged in life. It’s funny to think of the pre-internet days when this wasn’t such an issue, isn’t it?
Hey, great tips, thank you.
Ididn’t know those programs, I used srivener to write. This application also allows you to order your reserch, make notes, split you writing int o chapter etc. so it;s good for people weriting books. I just bought writeWroom, it’s just that clean and simple 🙂 so thank you for that tip
Thank you for chiming in with recommendations!