writing schedule

When You’re Distracted From Your Writing

Pencil-tapping-distractor-213269-hLast 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:

Dealing with Distraction

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.

Making the Magic Happen: Committing to a Writing Schedule

Writing is magic.

We think up an idea, and put it on the page.  Whole worlds spring to life beneath our fingers.  And all we need to do this, at base, is a pen and paper.  Oh, sure, a typewriter or computer helps, but if worse came to worse you could do without one and still write.

What you do have to come up with is time to make the magic happen.  You have to sit at your desk, or your arm chair, or in the coffee shop, and put words on the page.  And that takes time.

And that is where many of us falter.  Me, too.  I struggle with finding time just like everyone else.  But lately I've realized that all my important non-writing activities stretch to fill the time I allot them.  So, if I give myself all day to read three manuscripts, that's how long it will probably take me.  And if I give myself all day to read said manuscripts, I won't get any writing done.

And therein lies the problem.

With the necessity of doing marketing around my book release, many days this winter I became a writer who didn't write.  Well, there were blog posts.  And there were guest posts and interviews and ariticles, all of which I love.

But in my heart of hearts, its not the same as working on fiction.  And if a fiction writer is how I identify myself, if that is what I truly want to be, then I need to find time to work on it consistently.

I used to get up and work on it first thing in the morning.  But that schedule no longer works for me–I simply have too many emails and other internet chores pulling on me to allow me to focus.  I'd sort of pretend I was writing and actually get about 20 minutes in.  Not conducive to making progress on a WIP.  I was working on it, but in fits and starts–a stolen moment here, a bit of time there.

Last week, in my travels around the web, I read an interview with an author said that she wrote every morning from 9 to noon.  (I wish I knew who this was or where I read it, but I can't remember.)  This struck me like a thunderbolt.  Bad cliche, sorry, but it did.  I realized that if I put myself on a schedule like that, I'd actually get my writing done. 

And so I did.  I'm now writing from 9 to noon every day.  I'm showered and at my desk by 9 AM.  No more stretching internet time until 8 AM, then working on the crossword puzzle for awhile and getting in the shower when I felt like it.  (Hey, its the benefit of working at home.)  Nope, I'm ready to write at 9 AM sharp.  And I'm getting a ton done.

What I wasn't so sure about was getting everything else done, but so far that hasn't been a problem at all.  I've always harped on said that when you make your passion your priority, everything else magically falls into place.  And it is true.  I'm simply much more focused.  Plus, the high that comes from fiction writing follows me all day, allowing me to power through dumb chores and errands with joy. 

I really can't describe how profound this change feels. 

I've got an exciting new ghostwriting job coming up, and a couple other things in the works, so we'll see how I stick to the schedule when those come in.  But in the meantime, don't call me in the morning, because I'll be writing.

Do you schedule writing time?  Are you able to stick to it?  What works for you?