Writing and Distractions
“I really love writing, but I am very easily distracted: my two cats fighting, a rainbow, a TV show… I have to use every trick to keep myself at the computer.”
~K. A. Applegate
Happy September! Distraction is one of my worst enemies as a writer. It comes in so many forms. I let it seduce me, draw me away from my work. I’ve got to get a handle on it. Now.
In Good Company
Does anyone else feel oh so good that even Katherine Applegate gets seriously distracted and has to resort to “tricks” to stay writing? I have to confess that when I read the quote, I felt that urge to do a search and find out if she had shared those tricks anywhere. But that would be a distraction because my focus right now is to write this post, so I resisted. Besides, I don’t need to know what Katherine’s tricks are. I need to develop some of my own.
Back in July, I wrote a post about my compulsion to check my email and how I believe I have lost my ability to work deeply for extended periods of time. This is a big reason why I’m a “slow” writer. It turns out, I’m not slow, I’m distracted.
I’m currently re-reading Cal Newport’s Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World. Even though the subject interests me—a lot—I’m having trouble concentrating. I’ll read and then suddenly realize I’m not reading anymore. I’m thinking about something else which has me jumping online to “check something really quick.”
This is scaring me. I’m finding it takes longer for me to get into a book and 99% of the time it has nothing to do with the book. It’s me and my inability to focus because my mind is used to jumping from page to device to computer screen and back again.
This must stop.
One Thing at a Time
April 3 – May 6 was apparently Screen-Free Week along with Children’s Book week this year. I somehow missed that, but I won’t next year. That will be a week devoted to books, reading and non-screen activities.
But I don’t plan to wait until then. For the next four days (Tues – Fri), I’m going to avoid watching any video—YouTube, my fave TV and streaming shows, movies. I haven’t told my husband yet, but I think he’ll be fine with it. He can watch his sports and news and we’ll put off any shows we watch together until the weekend.
I’m going to read, write, cook, meditate, or just stare off into space during those times.
I’m actually a very productive person in spite of my compulsions for checking email, watching shows, and eating potato chips. 🙂 This is less about productivity—though I’m curious to see if that changes—and more about how I feel. I don’t want to feel like my attention is split all the time. I want to feel focused. Be focused. I want to experience the moment I’m in and the people I’m with.
So I’m doing this video-free thing.
Wish me luck. I’ll need it because I LOVE watching my shows. This will be hard for me!
You remind me of me. 🙂 This summer I had a writing coach I was working with initially to figure out how to make writing a priority in my life and put good behaviors into practice before life gets hectic. By the end of the summer, I also realized what I really need is time to JUST THINK.
You’re an awesome human being, Denise. Thanks for the post!
Good for you for getting support on making writing a priority. That’s awesome. And yes, we do need time to just think. Or let our minds wander. Even though I talk a good talk, I often don’t feel “productive” unless my fingers are on the keyboard, which is crazy. Some of my best “writing” has come when I’m walking. 🙂 And thank you for your compliment – you made my day!!! xoxo