Thursday, March 25, 2010


It's so easy to get off-task when I'm writing. Oh look, laundry. Oh look, the cat has thrown up again on the floor. Oh look, etc. etc. etc. Not to mention the temptation of playing one more game on the internet, or checking what people are saying on Facebook or Twitter, or etc. etc. etc.

What's a writer to do?

I've learned I have to leave. It might be different if I had a home office, but I don't. Not yet.

Several minutes lost as I imagine the space and mentally decorate it.

If I get out of the house, I can write. I've gone to coffee shops, to the library, anywhere where all I have to do is write. Now, of course, this cuts down on my muttering and pacing, but the words still manage to make their way onto the page. Doing this for several days in a row has given me a real feeling that I'm getting somewhere. I can envision actually writing a query letter in the not-too-distant future.

I can't write for hours every day - I do have a house and children (okay, teenagers) that demand my attention. Actually the teenagers just want constant supplies of food and new clothes. There's supper to make.

Several more minutes lost as I imagine having a personal chef.

I have told myself forcefully to treat my writing with respect. For me, right now, that means writing elsewhere.

How do you deal with distractions? Do you give your writing the respect it deserves?


  1. Now I'm going to be thinking about all the distractions I have, instead of writing. Thanks a lot, Elspeth!

  2. Alan; Welcome to my club. I'm having jackets made.

  3. Next Wednesday schools close and kids are home. That is the worse since I normally write in the dining room of our open plan house. If I don't need the internet, I lock myself in the bedroom. I get a lot done when I do that. But when I'm doing my educational writing I must be near the internet to quickly check things. This year I'm using part of my royalty money to build an office at the back of the house. I dream about it. An office with a door and it's own internet. I can't wait!

  4. I have to stay home to write because I think it's child abuse to leave a three year old home alone.

    I write at night and have low daily writing goals- 2 pages a day. At least during the school year. I write much more in the summer.

    The best thing I did to give myself more writing time was cut out T.V. I love all that extra time!

  5. Lauri; I envy you! What a good use of your royalties! I shall ponder this - I don't know about actually building a room, but I may repurpose one. Damn. More distractions.

    Stephanie; I try for 1,000 words a day - 2,000 is better. I don't actually watch that much TV - there's so little on that interests me.

  6. How do you deal with distractions? Oh, I am afraid I let myself get distracted. I have decided to spend less time on my blog, though, and one thing that works for me is to decide beforehand how much I want to write every week. February and March have been hopeless workwise (my teaching job, I mean), but I am fighting my way back to my own goals these days, and I enjoy it so much!

  7. I've resorted to switching off the internet. Works for me.

    My writing don't deserve any respect until the second draft. Then I treat it like a King. :)

  8. I try to save my distractions for when I take a break from writing, but it doesn't always work out that way. I read someplace that it takes a minimum of 20 minutes of writing before you're in the zone where time flies away. Getting to 20 minutes in one sitting in my household is not an easy task most days.

  9. Dorte; Goals are important - and, I think, a sign of respect for the work.

    M.J.; Turning off the internet is almost vital, isn't it? Unfortunately I have to check emails fairly regularly to see if my game customers have questions.

    Carol; I hadn't heard that, but it sounds about right. I can do it when my kids are in school - far trickier when they're home!

  10. My writing is so disrespected it's not even funny! I dont' know if every writer deals with this...I'm sure there are some out there who can completely concentrate no matter what, or are just total loners and have no other responsibilities. I don't know that I would change my life to have one of these other options, but I sure would love the space and time my writing deserves! For me, coffee shops offer just as many distractions--people to watch, yummy coffee smells, the Internet...What's a writer to do?


  11. Michele; I think each of us figure it out in our time - you've got little kids and an outside job. Maybe later will be easier.

    Karen; I think (especially with fiction) it comes down to believing what you're writing is worthy of being written - if that makes any sense.

  12. Sadly, Elspeth, I don't think that I'm giving my writing the respect it deserves. I need to set a designated daily time and stick to it.

  13. I love quiet time! It's a concept my husband does not understand. He's shocked that I want him to go away, he thought he married a wife that was needy and clingy...nope, not me.


  14. Elspeth, I always enjoy your wry sense of humor, probably because I can relate. I, too would stop to imagine that perfect space to write in, or the joy of having a chef. I have the writing space, but not the chef. I need to do something about that. My guy would be....

    Seriously, I do struggle with distractions and have to keep pulling myself back. I have learned to set a time that I will be working on my latest book and most of the time I stick to the schedule. It's tempting to see what is going on at Facebook, etc, but I check that impulse as soon as it comes.

    I'm not sure that respecting the work is an issue, at least not with me, it is maintaining the discipline.

  15. Elspeth - Distractions are such a part of my daily life that I could spend the next hour describing them to you. But that would be a distraction, too ; ).

    One thing I do is just accept that there are distractions, and write in small dollops, when I can. I would rather spend ten or fifteen minutes writing - really writing - than not at all. I also get up obnoxiously early, before the 'phone or other such distractions become a problem. That helps, too, and lets me focus. Of course, it also convinces people I'm crazy, but that doesn't take much convincing ; ).

  16. Distractions are constant! Time consuming job, teens and their stomachs and their friends' stomachs, house, hubby and sleep. Tough stuff! :)

  17. During the school year, I leave home and write in the library/coffeeshop where I won't hear the laundry buzzer go off.

    During the summer I take the writing on the the pool, to the skating rink, etc.

    Mystery Writing is Murder

  18. I don't have children yet, but my husband (and the vomiting cats) can be pretty distracting. They are all love sponges and want my attention constantly, so I've gotten great at losing myself in my work and ignoring everything around me. I just tune it out. It helps when I put on headphones (listening to music or not) so I can pretend to have a reason not hear what my husband's saying.

  19. Tell me about distractions. When I have so much to do I feel I am sinking is exactly when I play one more game of Bejeweled Blitz, and then another, and yet another!

  20. When the distractions are chores, I have no problem avoiding them. I mean who WANTS to do laundry or clean toilets when you can be playing with your characters.

    The hubster tends to be my major distractor, but now that we're moving, we're going to set up our spaces so that we're as far apart as the little house permits.

    But I probably spend more time than I need to shooting Snoods. :-)


Please leave a comment as I love to hear from you!