Distractions and Writing

Writing caves, offices, rooms, cabins, cottages, etc might sound like a romantic fantasy made up by a writer’s collective, but they serve a purpose. They limit distractions from outside sources.

I dearly wish and dream for the day when I will have such a place. Now I’m perched in my bedroom, sometimes on the bed, sometimes at a desk while I write away. Did I mention I have two doors to my room, one which must be locked to stay closed and the other inches from the living sofa?

Oh, you think, I could just lock the door. Sigh. Sure that would work if three minutes later someone wasn’t knocking on it. And if I don’t answer the knock, they just go to the other door.

The point is writing is an all absorbing exercise. To lose oneself in a fantasy world and stagger through the labor of dedicating the words to the page in a coherent manner that tells the tale, demands solitary confinement. The writer is not just one of his characters, he is all of them, all at the same time. The writer feels them, molds them, plays out the relationship between them over and over and over until it becomes real. And then plops them into a made-up world.

It takes time and concentration to keep everything straight. That one knock on the door can take several minutes to hours to recover.

Of course life carries on. In my world I can’t lock it out. I have an autistic son and a teenage daughter. Mom is my #1 job still. And my parents are aging and have health issues that demand my time. They raised me, after all. Family comes first. And then there’s the farm … animals don’t know that I’m writing. They can’t reason to  wait for food or water or attention. The garden can’t cover itself when a storm rolls in. Beans don’t jump in the fridge, carrots don’t wash themselves.

But it’s all a cycle.

Some days I get up at 4 am and sit in the quiet of the house. I write pages after page until my computer battery dies or the growling in my stomach demands to be fed or I have to go to work. I love those days.

I can hardly speak of distractions though without nodding at the blessed invention called the internet. How many times a day do we check Facebook, twitter, and email (among other sites) just to see what someone else is doing or who has commented on something we posted? It’s habitual. I turn off my ringer when I’m writing and let my phone vibrate away. I can still check it to see if I need to respond to anything or answer a call from my mom but usually it lays on the bed next to me and purrs away. I check it when I take a break.

Some day, maybe I’ll have that shack or office or den to spread out in and isolate myself while I commit words to the page, but for now, I make do with what I have.




2 thoughts on “Distractions and Writing

  1. Great article Erin. You definitely aren’t alone. I hope one day to “hide” in the woods, but I’m sure distractions will follow me wherever I go. I try (stress try) to lump my twitter/email time in batches. One shortly after I get up, one at midnight, and one in the morning. The internet is great for having a thesaurus, a dictionary, and a library of research at my fingertips, but every time I click back to the browser I seem to unconsciously check social media for updates.

    • Thanks Marty! 🙂 It takes a lot of discipline (more than I have) to not check the browser button on the computer and once I do it, I’m lost for awhile. I tried at one point to only let myself look at my phone when I took a bathroom break and the browser when I stopped to eat something … but I gave up. Being a writer takes a lot of energy to keep up with things like marketing and media besides the writing side of things. I always thought it would be great to not have internet on my land except in one corner up on a hill or something and then I’d actually have to leave my office and walk somewhere to check social media, but then I’d just get annoyed with it.

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