Despite having good intentions, interruptions often find their way into my writing time. It’s a challenge to juggle writing time and responsibilities, to find a life balance that works for me. But I refuse to quit trying!
I’m currently taking a workshop in which the leader has challenged us to set goals, to list the challenges we will face in meeting those goals, and to learn from both. Listing the challenges has helped me focus on ways to overcome them and make progress on my writing projects.
Weather – We’ve been in a stormy weather pattern here in Central Illinois lately. Heavy rains punctuated with thunder and lightning have kept me off the computer during my normal writing times. Even with surge protectors, I’d rather not take a chance on frying my computer. Unfortunately, stormy weather always seems to hit when I don’t have a printout that includes my most recent edits, so I use a notebook to jot down ideas and brainstorm. At least I am doing something writing related!
Nice weather patterns are just as bad, especially in summer. Since I’m cooped up in an office at the day job, I prefer to spend my evenings and weekends outside whenever I can, enjoying nature. Long walks with my hubby and hiking in the local parks are definite distractions. While the exercise is good for me after sitting all week, it doesn’t put words on the page.
Social media – I’m a social person, so some social media for me is fun. It’s also addicting! If I stay offline too long, I find that little devil sitting on my shoulder, whispering about all I’m missing by not being online. But if I want to make writing progress, I have to stay off the internet during my designated writing time.
Research – With the internet so readily available, it’s so easy to do research. There are so many resources for just about any subject, it’s easy to spend hours surfing...or just wasting time looking at interesting information. Once again, if I want to make progress, I have to stay offline. Instead of rushing to search out something immediately, I’ve started inserting brackets with notes to “check XYZ” – and try to keep writing! I also include any abstract ideas or related question. Once I have everything noted, I usually highlight the bracketed information to make it even easier to see on the page when I’m ready to start researching.
Reading – I’ve always been a voracious reader, and being a writer has not changed me. Sometimes I need to take a break from writing – from every day life in general – and reading relaxes me. It’s also very useful because my writing mind absorbs information when I read. If I’m struggling with how to handle something, reading offers a solution. It helps to see how other authors put all the pieces together.
Family, friends, and responsibilities are my biggest writing distractions. They are not easily overcome. Instead, I strive to find a balance. A calendar helps me keep track of responsibilities, and to plan time with family and friends. Mapping out my week or month helps me to also schedule blocks of writing time. Having it all in front of me allows me to see the bigger picture and be flexible enough to make it work for me.
What are your biggest distractions and how do you combat them? Please share!