I’ve been terribly distracted this week. It’s not life or news or social networking or anything, just one part of my work distracting me from another part of my work. I’m having a week where I’m being pulled in several different directions, and keeping things on track hasn’t been easy. I’m catching up on my inbox today, because it got neglected while I was putting out fires. And then there are the phone calls to return.. We agents spend a lot of time putting out fires, and that can distract us from the reading, editing, and pitching that is the more structured part of our job.

I know writers deal with distractions all the time. Most of your write on top of having full-time jobs, families, friends, the DGLM blog and Angry Birds. I wonder: what helps keep you on track? How do you stay focused and get those words written when the whole world is conspiring to stop you?

15 Responses to Distraction

  1. Mimi Cross says:

    Writing the words is the escape from the whole world, which may or may not be conspiring to stop me :)

  2. Two hours a day after lunch before the kids get home from school. Until I learned to make an appointment, I couldn’t get it done because it was always the lowest priority.

    But this week, I gotta get my taxes filed…

  3. What keeps me going is the stark fear of utter poverty and the knowledge that writing a best-selling novel is the key to riches.

    I think the first part is not difficult to experience. And I think the second part is, perhaps, difficult. But I’m aiming for the second to avoid the first.

    Call me crazy.

  4. Bryan says:

    Distractions aren’t a part of my writing li–Hey, look! A bird!

  5. How do I handle distractions… with an unvarying routine:

    1) Hide the sweets.

    2) Turn off the modem.

    3) Hide my phone or give it to a colleague/ my husband with strict orders not to give it back to me for X amount of time, no matter how I scream and beg.

    4) Really wish I had the sweets. Contemplate switching the modem back on, just for one tiny second. Yearn for my twitter account. Think of all the insane things I could promise my husband that might make him give back my phone.

    5) Put on the earphones, rock some bad eighties music, and crank it out.

  6. Lydia Sharp says:

    Maril pretty much nailed it. Except I’m more of a nineties music girl. 😉

  7. Michael says:

    I hope none of you were distracted by my post, because at least one of you (ahem, Bryan), seems easily distracted!

    Maril, I’ve been finding that music is actually a good way to stay focused now that I work from home. My problem is that I always forget to restart the music when I get off a call!

  8. Ryan Field says:

    For writers I think it depends on whether or not they are contracted. In other words, if there’s a contracted book pending with a deadline, the book comes first. Social life and unimportant distractions take a back seat. Even family has to understand the book comes first.

    Of course if you’re balancing a full time job and writing, which I did for years, it’s not always easy. But, for me, the book always came first.

  9. Kimberly J. Smith says:

    I’m sorry, did you say something? Oh, distractions. Yes. I never get distracted. Except when the dog barks at a passing bicyclist or when my kids argue over the Wii remote or when my iChat goes off with a request from work or… okay, I guess I do get distracted.

    I am also a fan of the music focus — ear buds, and something mood-setting (but without lyrics, can’t write with lyrics) usually does the trick. Or waiting until the entire house is asleep. That cuts the distractions down quite a bit.

  10. Peg Wimberley says:

    Poor you, you have to be monogamous with each bundle of words you open, and there must be temptations everywhere. The hardest part about fighting distraction is to not use another distraction as a contrivance to heal messy thinking. I sometime bore myself into getting back to work. There is a clock that ticks loudly in my kitchen and if I can force myself to listen to it for three minutes without screaming or grabbing a cat meandering by, then my brain is so happy to be given the chance to focus, it will stick with the job at hand. Along that theme and if you don’t happen to have a loud ticking device handy, force yourself to do something you really hate to do for a little bit. The important part of this is to make sure you give yourself a time limit. That way your mind gets in gear to be free to do what you need to do at a specific time.
    There’s also an herb called Scullcap that helps sometimes, not always. An Indian woman in Wyoming taught me about this years ago, she said it “clears the chatter in the mind.”
    Good luck.

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