I don’t write in a vacuum. I’m not just a writer. I can’t turn off the world for my craft. Distractions are one of the biggest problems I face as a writer and the biggest impediment to writing my books.
I don’t have a full-time, paying job around which I have to schedule my writing. I’m a stay-at-home mom to two children who are old enough to fend for themselves if necessary, not that you’d know it from all the “MOMs” yelled around here. I try to write during the day while they’re in school. Usually, I can get in at least a couple of hours. However, life often gets in the way. There are errands to be done, phone calls to make, rooms to clean, groceries to buy, etc. My kids depend on me, as does my husband. While everyone is supportive of my writing, they still need my help with things, and sometimes my plans for finding somewhere quiet to write just don’t work.
Then there are the social distractions: Facebook, Twitter, email and blogs. I leave them on in the background. Since I’m home alone most of the time, those things provide my social opportunities, my ways of interacting with people from the confines of my home. What’s great about those mediums is that they make it easy to take a five minute break and go right back to work. What’s not so great is that it’s very easy to get distracted.
Lately, there’s been a bit of a weird distraction. Starting February 1, I’m participating in the New Jersey chapter of RWA’s JeRoWriMo. It’s a 30K word challenge in 30 days. I’ve never done this before and I’m a bit nervous. But I’m also really excited and I’m finding myself getting inspired. I’ve got two manuscripts I’m planning to work on during that time period and the ideas are percolating. But since I can’t actually start writing until Feb. 1, all those ideas are doing right now are distracting me.
So, what’s my solution to the myriad distractions that keep me from writing? Well, a lot of it has to do with good intentions, while some of it involves actual plans. For the family distractions, I try to look at my calendar each day and plan when I think the best time for writing will be. I find if I schedule my writing, just like I schedule everything else, I’m more likely to get to it.
As for the social distractions, well, those are tougher. Part of my strategy is willpower; just sitting down and doing it. But part of it is also going easy on myself. Being social is not a bad thing. I’m allowed to “talk” to people. And it’s very helpful when asking for writing or industry advice. But like everything, it has to be done in moderation. So I use social media during breaks, after I’ve gotten my to-do list done, or as a needed distraction when I’m stuck on something.
As for JeRoWriMo, well, it may distract me temporarily, but ultimately, I’m going to have written 30,000 words in a month. And if I’m able to do that, and damper the other distractions, I’ll consider myself to have conquered this writing problem!