Distractions   6 comments

This week’s blog hop topic is “What Are Your Top 5 Distractions And How Do You Deal With Them?”


Distractions aren’t fun, but sadly we have them a lot in our lives. Especially with the Internet. There’s always a distraction waiting around the corner.  
Do you have a way of holding the distractions at bay? If so, share your tips.

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No kidding! We live in a distracting world and writers are not immune to the siren cry of that other thing we could be doing.

Related imageMy mother operated a daycare in our home when I was in high school and college, so I’m not really distracted by noise or activity from other rooms. I’m able to mentally screen it out and can write while in the living room watching movies with the kids. This came in really handy when I was a journalist writing in a bull pen. Conversations between my coworkers didn’t really bother me.

These days, my #1 distraction is the Internet. Social media has this crack-like effect on just about everyone I know, including me. I know I should be writing, but I’m in this intriguing conversation about politics … or Alaska … or writing … or quilting … or cats … or whatever. I’m “networking”. Uh, no, probably not. It’s a distraction.

I can’t really stop using the Internet because I use it for research, marketing and, yeah, I do network with it. These days, you have to use the Internet to publish. So, turning it off … even just for yourself, isn’t really possible.

My #2 distraction is television. We live in the age of binge watching, right? Everybody needs a break now and then and sometimes I get good ideas for my books from the shows that I watch. No, I’m not stealing ideas. I get inspired more by television failures than by their great ideas … and so I try to improve them.

Image result for image of distractionsMy #3 distraction is video games. Do you note a theme? I love to play games on the computer, especially long complicated role-playing games. Next thing you know, I haven’t written anything in two weeks and … yeah, I still want to play more.

My counter to these distractions is to turn them off and walk away. I don’t leave social media up on my computer while I’m writing. I limit my television viewing when I’m working … or I write while I watch, which really does work for me … most of the time. I allow myself a nice juicy video game when I’m between books, but try to say “no” when I’m working. That’s not always easy because Brad loves video games too and those role-playing games are fun to do together. He adventures and I solve the mysteries that get us into be best adventures. But, no, just say “no” when I’m working.

My #4 distraction isn’t a problem in the winter, but it’s headed my way like a runaway train now — summer in the Great Outdoors is where it’s happening for Alaskans. Which is why I have got to finish the first draft of A Threatening Fragility this month, because adventure will be dragging me out the door by late May and I might not wriggle free before August.

You notice I don’t count my family or other people in general as a distraction. I am blessed to have Brad, the kids and the dog, and other people are a great source of writing material, so I don’t find them distracting at all … unless they’re social media. That’s a hard one to separate, but sometimes I just have to know when to say “no.”

My best tip for how to deal with distractions is to schedule them. It’s fine to indulge in something other than writing from time to time. It’s essential, actually. It’s a great pressure release valve. But you should make some rules and stick to them. Don’t let social media consume all your writing time. Same with anything else. Say “I’m doing this for an hour and no more” and mean it. Walk away. Turn it off. Don’t waste your talent in fruitless pursuits. The cat pictures and political discussions will still be there when you’ve finished the first draft.

I promise.

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6 responses to “Distractions

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  1. I’ve considered setting up a second computer that I keep unplugged from the ‘net to use for writing. But that just seems silly.

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    • Kind of expensive, having two. I turned off popups so Facebook etc. can’t bother me when I’m writing. I do have it set up so I hear a ding when someone posts, but I’m not as distracted by audio as I am by video, so that doesn’t really cause a problem for me.

      I do occasionally turn off the Internet so I can write without interruption, but that makes any research questions something I have to do later, so ….

      I don’t think there’s a perfect way. What works for one person might not work for another and sometimes it doesn’t work from one time to the next.

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  2. I miss gaming, so much! I had to cut it out because I would be all in, and nothing got done. It’s so fun though. I miss it. Alice Returns by American McGee was my last (sequel to Alice, which is amazing).

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    • Our last big one was Sky Rim. All three of us took turns. Our son has the patience to search through tombs for treasure. I’m really good at puzzles and talking to people to get clues and missions. My husband is good at battles. But we stopped for summer last year and didn’t play this winter, so it’s not finished. I think those Elder Scroll games don’t actually finish.

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  3. When I was a baby, my mother always had the radio and television on while I slept to get me used to noise. That has helped as I’ve grown up and I can shut out a lot of distraction. I know what you mean about the binge television watching – I do that a lot.

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    • I used to do that with our kids too. Our daughter could sleep through an elephant stampede. Our son would wake up … because an elephant stampede in your bedroom is note worthy — but he’d be able to go back to sleep as soon as the dust cleared. It drives their dad crazy that those two can screen out everything in the house (including him) to focus on whatever interests them.

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