How to Keep Writing Through Holidays and Other Distractions

Easter_candy_chocolat_242057_l"Get back to me after Easter."

"Let's deal with that after Easter."

I've heard that several times this week and it has gotten me thinking about how we deal with our lives around major holidays and other distractions. Specifically, how we deal with our writing.  Even more specifically, how we get writing done when holidays and major distractions (spring break, anyone?) occur.

Sometimes we don't.

And honestly, when that happens, when you know there's just no way you're going to get any work done, its best just to go with it and not beat yourself up. 

But what if you truly, desperately want to keep working through busy periods?  If you're coming down the homestretch of finishing a novel, say, or in the white hot heat of beginning one?  Following are some tips to keep you sane.

1. Find a way to touch base with your WIP.  Even if you can't write, you can take time to read a page or two.  (C'mon, this takes only five minutes.) Staying in touch with your project in this way keeps it planted in your brain and allows your subconscious to work on it.

2.  Write first thing.  I know, you night owls hate this one.  But there's nothing like the feeling of getting your most important work done first thing in the morning.  Even if its just twenty minutes, somehow connecting with your most important project first thing makes the whole day go better.

3.  Write while exercising.   You keep up with your exercise routine, right?  (Somehow its easier to tell your demanding family you're going out for a walk than it is to tell them you're shutting yourself away in your writing den.  I know, I've been there.)  Take a voice recorder and talk your next scene into it while walking.  Or just hide out at the coffee shop and work instead of writing.  (Maybe you could walk to the coffee shop so you wouldn't technically be lying.)

4.  Take your manuscript with you wherever you go.  Then, you can take an extra few minutes before grocery shopping to look through you recent pages.  (Everyone knows grocery shopping takes forever, you can snitch a few minutes.) Or work on it while you're waiting for your daughter after school.  Or while you're waiting for something to download at work.

5. Think about your work.  Thinking is a highly under-rated activity for writers.  You always have your brain with you, right?  Instead of obsessing about politics, direct your brain to think about your WIP.  And write down the ideas you get anyway you can–on a scrap of paper or your phone.

6. Eat lunch with your WIP.  Wouldn't you rather spend time with your manuscript than the latest issue of O?  Okay, I read O with lunch all the time, but when pressed for time, try connecting with your WIP during breaks.  At the very least, it will keep the work fresh in your mind.

7.  Maintain an attitude that there is enough time.   We spend so much time convincing ourselves that there's no time, it's no wonder we're stressed and overwhelmed.  Try taking the opposite tack and affirm to yourself that you have enough time.  This actually does work.  At the very least, you'll be a lot more relaxed.

Create a successful, inspired writing life: This Easter season, try approaching the hoopla and rush a bit differently.  Remind yourself that your writing is worth it and experiment with the above ways to stay with it over the holiday.

What about you?  How do you find time to write during busy periods?  Got any good tips for us?  We'd love to hear them.  And if you enjoyed this article, please share it on social media through the buttons below.


Photograph by Zela.

Dealing With Distraction

I'm distracted from my writing this morning, for the following reasons: Skull-light-lightbulb-39846-l

1.  My beloved pug's health problems.

2.  The earthquake in Japan.

3.  The ensuing tsunami watch on the Oregon coast (gotta watch those one-foot storm surges).

4.  Thoughts about the show I'm going to attend tonight.

5.  Things I gotta do, like finish organizing the closet I started working on Monday.

So, what's a person to do?  How do you deal with distraction?

Here are my best tips: Create containers and use the power of your subconscious.  The two actually go hand in hand.

There are lots of ways to create containers, be it making a file for a new client, or buying a new journal to write in.  But there are more subtle ways to think of this, too.  For instance, when I have a project to work on the next day, I pull out everything that I have on it.  Files, notes, research I've done, whatever.  Or, just this morning I decided to work downstairs in the dining room so that my ailing pug doesn't follow me up the steps, which is hard on her.  So I gathered up my computer, my to-do list, and all the various spirals and legal pads I need in order to work.  I'm creating a container for my work day.

And this is very much related to utilizing your subconscious.  Seeding it with thoughts about your project is effective because it will go to work once you let it know what you're going to write about.  This morning I gathered up all my notes and spirals, set up in the dining room, and then took a shower.  All that time my subconscious was working–even on this blog post.

Dealing with distraction is also easier if you have the habit of writing regularly.  Because then your little brain is already working away on ideas for your novel and if crazy world and personal events pull you away from your writing, there's still that connection.  Its easier to get back to it when the distractions are done.

Oh, and by the way, if distraction threatens to overwhelm you, maybe you need help.  I offer writing and creativity coaching, which can be enormously helpful in getting on track.   I also offer Get Your Writing in Gear sessions, and they happen to be on special.  Its a March Madness sale, through this month, with $50 off, bringing the cost of the session to $100.  Book now!

So, tell me–how do you deal with distraction?

Photo by dakinewavamon, from Everystockphoto.



Why I’m Distracted Today

BusterSitting (Excuse the sideways photo, its how my phone sent it to my computer and as far as I can tell, Typepad doesn't let me rotate it.  Why, Typepad, why?) 

Anyway, meet Ally (the fawn) and Buster (the once-upon-a-time black one).  Ally is 7 and Buster is 13.  Poor old guy is pretty rickety but he is a love.  The two of them were raised together and given up by a family who didn't have time for them.  Yes, Buster is a bit high maintenance but I love him anyway.  It is so wonderful to have pugs and puggie sounds in the house again–Ally follows me everywhere and is currently snoring beside me.