Writing Journal Y4 Day 20: Distractions

writing_journal_fullsize_025There are a billion things that can pull a writer away from their writing.  Twitter, Facebook and good ol Google being high on the list.  Add in video games, smarthphone apps, pets and family, and you have a recipe for never getting any writing done.

And yes, I put family on that list.  Spouse, children, even parents and grand parents, can all be distractions.  The trick to getting the writing done is how you handle it all.

I’ve heard a lot of advice on this topic, and from a pretty diverse cross section of the genre community.  Sometimes it just comes down to discipline and setting expectations and goals for yourself and the people around you.  Social media and the web – these can be the most seductive distractions because they are just so darn easy to be sucked into.  Try turning off your computer’s wifi (or pull the cord out) when you’re writing.

As for family, the advice I’ve seen varies wildly.  Some authors have a writing space in the home and make it clear – when I’m in this space, I am not really here.  A friend of mine works from home and has an office setup in the basement.  The ‘rule’ is when daddy is downstairs, he’s ‘at the office’ and is not to be disturbed.  But every time I have ever spoken with him on the phone, or chatted with him online, his family has been merrily invading that space, completely disregarding ‘the rule’.  Success is spotty, I guess.

I remember reading an author’s blog who said they had a ‘writing hat’, and when they put the hat on, it was a message to their family that they are not to be disturbed.  Other authors leave the house.  Starbucks is a popular destination, as is (here in Colorado) Village Inn.

I mentioned setting expectations.  Many authors do this with their families.  “I am going to write from 2-4 every day, and in return for you not disturbing me, we are going to do this, and this, and this together…”

I have tried to train my brain to not need a space, or a hat (despite the logo at the top of the page), or any of that.  Wherever I am, I have my laptop and I steal minutes to write as often as possible.  10 words or  100, it’s all progress.

There are things that I cut out or try to ignore because they truly will distract me.  The tv, video games, etc.

But then they make Angry Birds Star Wars II and I’m screwed…


What about you?  How do you deal with distractions?


  • Jamie Todd Rubin Posted January 20, 2014 12:21 pm

    For avoiding social media distractions, I do a simple calculation: “At this moment, do I want to write more, or browse more?” These days, the answer is almost always “write more.” So that’s what I do.

    I’ve also learned to write with distractions in small scraps of time. Most of the writing I’ve done over the last year has been in the evening, with the entire family sitting around me, and the kids watching Caillou or Rescue Bots on the TV. Sometimes I only have 10-20 minutes, but that’s good for 250-500 words.

    Mostly, though, it comes back to desire, and given the choice, I’d pick writing over video games, Twitter, Facebook, or even the Yankees game (during the baseball season) almost every time. It’s much easier during football season. 🙂

  • Dan Posted January 20, 2014 9:22 pm

    My distractions are unavoidable, but I have learned over the years that when they finally leave the house, I just find myself distracted by my own thoughts. What has worked in the past couple of years is to just write and not worry about grammar, or repeating the same sentence twice, or adding words from the surrounding conversation that have nothing to do with the writing (all these have happened). Eventually, I will have a quiet hour or two to go over and refine everything.

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