Wednesday, September 2, 2015

How To Avoid Wicked and Sweet Distractors

Why is it-everytime I sit down to write: 

I think of my favorite song, a painting/photo/picture, my last vacation

My Pet wants to snuggle

The one person I've been trying to reach calls

I feel guilty for not getting my blogs done

Thank you notes, emails, FB, Twitter, every other form of writing calls to me, gives me creative, amazing words, and great ideas...


My work in progress. My poor, neglected work in progress.

There are just a few scenes, finishing touches, clarifications, WORDS needed and I CAN'T focus...


The laundry has to be done, dinner has to be made, bills need to be paid, my favorite TV show is on - I've been waiting for it all week, FB comments are calling, Twitter is chirping, Email is dinging, I need to buy a gift for my friend right now or I'll forget, oh look--there's a sale.

AAGH! I can't focus!!

Fret no longer. You are part of a brother and sisterhood. There IS help!

Here are a few tips to help you save your own day:

1. Make a commitment with everyone in your life (except those sweet babies Ashley Clark, Laurie Tomlinson, Amy Leigh Simpson, and others) to let you have one solid uninterrupted hour. Some writers use the wee hours of the morning to write before the crew wakes. Then, when the little ones nap in the afternoon, nap with them.

2. Play soothing music. Preferably something that has no words. Ocean, forest, and other nature sounds. Music with a sweet relaxing tune and no words will transport you to that place, far away from the busy life.

3. Close the door. Put on sound canceling headphones--regular ones work also. Look at pictures of your characters. Drift away into your story world.

4. Turn off your Internet and the Wi-Fi/mobil data to your phone. This way you can still receive important calls. Just for an hour. God really will take care of running the world.

5. Talk to your characters. Tell them a joke, although the villain may not respond well (wink) Ask them what happens next. Reason out the answers with them (Be careful, sometimes character say ridiculous things. That's why you're the writer and they're not. And--characters love to play practical jokes. They may tee pee your computer.)

6. Drink something hot and soothing. Now that cooler days are coming this is a great way to settle down your mind. If you live in a warm climate, enjoy a cool, refreshing glass of sweet tea, lemonade, flavored water, etc.

7. Sit in your chair and type or SIT IN YOUR CHAIR AND TYPE.

The above suggestions assume the distraction issue is TOO MUCH going on to focus.

If, on the other hand, your problem is a SLOTH BUG has crawled into your head:

1. Do number one above.

2. Play music with a beat. Something with no words to sing along.

3. Set a word count then promise yourself an award for after you finish. 

4. When you go to bed, review the scene you wrote that day. No matter how much was done. Review what you wrote. Think about it. Close your eyes and put yourself in the scene as a secondary character. 

What do you see? 
What did you hear? 
What did you smell? 
What did you taste? 
What crazy mistake did your MC or hero make?

This, probably, more than anything will be your biggest help. When you wake the next morning the scene will make sense, words will ache to be written.

How do I know?

No, the credit doesn't belong to me for this one. I've heard more than one successful full-time author say their personal rule is: Set a word limit each day. Stop writing when the limit is reached. Then allow the next scene to play in the mind as the rest of the day continues. That night, let the characters get into trouble, duke it out, vent, cry, laugh, sing, whatever.

The next morning, guess what--yep, the words flow again.

We can't expect to go to our computer at whatever time, sit down, and expect magic. We need to think about the story.

Think about your story.

Think about your story.

Your story.

Your story.

So...what happened in the last scene of your story? Ten seconds. Quick. Say it. 

Good. Let those words sway in your head for a period of time. Are they swaying? 

Are you swaying?

When you're ready, leap back to your computer and write what really happened next. Go for it. One hundred words. Or go for the gold, one thousand words. See how close you can get today.

If you need to stop, record how many words you wrote and the date. Keep a running log and reward yourself for landmark progress.

Last, let us know how you're doing. We'll cheer with you and applaud. 

What questions do you have?
How can we help you?

I can't wait to read your comment(s)!

Photo Courtesy: - modifications made for this purpose

If you found any typos in today's post...sorry about that. 

Mary writes young adult mystery/suspense Christian fiction, is honing marketing and writing skills, and loves to pen missionary and Bible adventure stories on her ministry blog, God Loves Kids. She has finaled in several writing contests.

Visit Mary at her website, her blog, Let's Talk, and her ministry blog to families: God Loves Kids. Or chat on Facebook or Twitter


Unknown said...

Very good advice. I learned early in my writing that I don't just think about my characters and the scene being created, like someone looking down from above or through a picture window to share what they see; I find myself standing in the room absorbing the smell, observing the nuances and movements of everyone in the scene. I sense the tension and uneasiness or the smiles or smirks as the characters become real to me. When I enter into my story like that I no loner hear external voices, music or even notice the ticking of the clock. Even long after I have exited my story and returned to reality my mind captures the memories of the story and stirs anticipation for what comes next in my thoughts and dreams until I reenter my story the next day. Reality is but a state of mind. It is a coloring book waiting to receive the colors we choose, and so what of occasionally we color outside the lines if that suits our story.

Mary Vee Writer said...

I totally agree with you. Last night I was stuck in traffic. A complete stop. Yes, this, too, was a great time to spend with characters. It was then I realized the mistake in the last chapter. If (***) was there, then (***). This definitely can't happen. Today, I'll go back and fix it-and the trickle down detail changes to the story. I might not have noticed had it not been for the traffic!

Thanks for stopping by and sharing!

Unknown said...

I sat down with my family earlier this year and asked for 20 minute time slots, where I can close the office door and be uninterrupted. The kids will set a timer so they hold up their end. I put on music to drown out any screaming (just kidding...maybe) and put my cell phone across the room. The internet remains closed and I just type, even if it's mediocre. The first 20 minutes is about the story. Most times, I get a lot more time. Then, I can open the door and continue writing or edit. The internet and incoming texts are my bane, so if I keep them away from reach, it lets my brain hone in and leave the temptations for later.

For the car, I installed a voice recording app on my phone. I can't be trusted to actually remember inspiration a few hours later. ;)

Mary Vee Writer said...

I especially like the voice recoding app for your phone. Inspiration seems to come best when we are unable to write. Driving, the shower, etc. Now they need an app for the shower!

Jeanne Takenaka said...

Love this, Mary. I need to get back to getting my family on-board with me closing my office door and just writing . . . or revising, in my case right now. We're still figuring out our schedule with the boys at two different schools, and one of them in football (3 practices/week plus a game). I need to be more purposeful and choose to stay focused, not distracted. Like your suggestions. :)

Mary Vee Writer said...

Good to see you, Jeanne.
Our family support means so much to us. There are a ton of life lessons we all learn in the process. Recently, I took my teen to an appointment. I sat out in the car and worked on my story. When she came back I said, just a minute. Well the minute turned into ten minutes. Whoa, I got the eye roll, the huffing, and other body language cues that conveyed her displeasure. I finished my sentence and turned to her with my full attention.

She let me know that I had been insensitive, but after explaining what I was doing, she softened her heart and supported me.

It's not an easy road. We all learn to give and take.