On Distractions and Writing

How does one exactly balance the rigors of daily life and writing?  I think that question has as many answers as there are writers out there.  I know, we’ve heard from Sean that he needed to step away for a while when change in job was an issue.  I’ve seen evidence that when the stress and uncertainty of job-change is in the air, it affects others the same way.  Not having changed jobs in a while, I’m not exactly sure what it would do to me and my writing.

But there are other things to consider too:  family, friends, hobbies, daily chores.  They all need time.  For me personally, I’ve got commitments with church, I’m taking an evening class, my kids (and arguably, my wife) need my time occasionally.  The snow needs shoveling (and soon the grass needs cutting).

And there’s the added complication that I only seem capable of focusing on one major project at a time.

So what’s the distraction this week?  Last week it was my term paper.  The week before, it was kicking off a major project at work.  The week before that it was… well, you get the idea.  Excuses seem to be plentiful and easy to spout.

Who hasn’t heard (or said), “It’s been a LONG day.  I just want to go to bed/relax/watch some TV/play with my imaginary friend”?  Or maybe you’ve got a TON of work left over that simply MUST get done before tomorrow?

I know I’ve done both… and on more than one occasion.

So what’s my story this time?

I’m actually trying hard NOT to answer that question.  It would be too easy.  Instead I will try something totally different.  Something harder.  I will not claim any distractions.  All they serve to do is increase my guilt anyway.

This week I’m going to do something I’ve talked about before.  I’m going to set a goal.  But not the huge, “Let’s devote our lives to writing the next great novel” goal.  Instead, I’m going to set the goal to… not get distracted.  No wait, too general; it’s got to be something SMART (for those of you unfamiliar with the the SMART acronym, it represents: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely).

So here it goes:

I am going to plot 5 chapters on my next book and plot the general outline for the “First Chapter Contest” story.  I am going to have the work completed by Sunday, March 25th (2007).  Further, I am going to have a rough draft of the “First Chapter” completed by next week Thursday.

There.  That should be “SMART” enough.

What else?  “What else is there?”, you might ask.  Well, if you’re like me, you will sometimes ”Think” about things (heaven forbid one should do that).  And what sort of things might that be?

I don’t know what keeps you up at night, but it could be anything.  Maybe you are considering a change of career like many of the SWNers seem to be doing right now.  Maybe you’re thinking of proposing or buying a house or… whatever.  Odd how thinking about stuff like that tends to take so much time away from writing (for example).

So, I will also set the goal to stop thinking about those “potential issues” in life.  They’ll either happen, or they won’t.  I refuse to let them eat away at my writing time.

Anything else?  One more goal to set.  I will write a minimum of 30 minutes for the next 5 days.  Since I know I can generate about 1000 words per hour, that makes my first goal both realistic and attainable. 

I think that should just about take care of this week’s problem with distractions.  Maybe I need to make this a weekly ritual.  I’ll report back next week on how successful my plan was.

Now, I double-dog dare those distractions to keep me out of the game.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.