Writing Through Distractions

A friend mentioned last week that she’s having trouble writing with distractions. Kids, phones, internet, email, Facebook, Twitter, errands, house-cleaning, meal-cooking, laundry . . . life is coming at her 180 mph with its hair on fire, and her muse is retreating along with her characters.

I sympathize. I wrote my first few books when the kiddo was little and either playing at friends, napping or in bed. For the first fourteen years or so of my writing career, I wrote at night, when the house was quiet, the phone wasn’t ringing and the only thing on TV was infomercials.

I needed–demanded–absolute quiet to create. It worked great . . . until it didn’t. A year or so ago, I decided I needed to be able to work even if it wasn’t quiet, so I deliberately began putting myself in noisy situations. Music playing, television on, husband talking.

It took time, but it’s worked. I can write pages in the middle of Baby Doc’s crowded waiting room, at a table in McDonald’s (in the play land, no less) or at a busy airport gate. I’m not as fast as I am with quiet, but the words are coming. And the more I do it, the better they come.

What about you? If you’re one of those authors who writes 10 pages at her kids’ soccer game and doesn’t miss a play, I hate you. Okay, I admire you, too, but still . . . Silence, music, TV, other people — what works for you?




4 thoughts on “Writing Through Distractions

  1. Music. And a scented candle. And a drink appropiate for the season. I used to believe I had to be alone, but learned when helping with my mom, I can work somewhere like Panera’s.

    • A scented candle . . . does it have to be a scent suited to the book? As far as music, I have so far only been able to listen to the blues and write, though I think I could handle jazz now, too. Do you pick specific songs for each writing project?

  2. I need P&Q to write. Although, I need to learn to write anywhere at anytime. So tell me Obi Wan, meesa need to know, how you do that? Can I pay for a private tutoring lesson? Please…pretty please…with sushi on top. Not that I’d stoop to bribery but…

    • Sushi . . . yumm. Here’s my advice: practice. When you’re in the flow writing, break long enough to turn on the TV or music. Keep it turned low and write. And keep trying it. Pull out a pad at a restaurant or coffee shop and see what you can get down. Even if it’s just ideas or dialogue phrases, it’s a start.

      The big test is writing even one coherent sentence when the grandkids are around!! I can manage about one paragraph before Cam says, “Grandma, get off the computer!” And after I give him The Look, he quietly says, “Grandma, get off the computer PLEASE.”

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