Ok, so you’ve decided to just get started writing. You sit down every day to write. And then you become distracted. Someone is mowing outside and you remember you still haven't gotten cash out to pay your lawn maintenance company. Or your throat feels scratchy so you start looking up symptoms on the internet. 30 minutes later you realize you haven't written anything. So you focus up and decide to just get started. And the doorbell rings, it’s the delivery guy and that thing that you ordered from that place that you’ve been waiting for is here. Another hour and no writing later you sit back down in front of your computer. Sound familiar? So, what are you supposed to do? Because you can't stop the dog from needing to be walked and the phone to stop ringing and your laundry to stop needing to be done. And you most certainly can't stop the internet. These things are all true, sort of. Maybe you can't stop the dog from needing to be walked or the laundry needing to be done, but you can make sure you have taken care of them or have set aside a time to take of them before you sit down to write.
And, true, you cannot stop your phone from ringing or the internet from existing, but you can turn them off in your house while you write. I know, I know, unplugging is like ripping out an IV for some people. But can I ask, how much do you get written when you are plugged in?
Ok, but you can't stop your mind from wandering, right? Maybe the trick isn’t to keep your mind from wandering, maybe the trick is to create writing assignments that aren’t so daunting. I mean you let your mind wander because the thought of writing 1,000 words about you-have-no-idea-about-what sounds so overwhelming that you let your mind hear that lawn mower or feel that scratchy throat. Am I right?
In her book [amazon text=Bird by Bird&asin=0385480016] Anne Lamott talks about short writing assignments. And I mean short. She says that she keeps a one-inch picture frame on her desk and she writes only what she can see through that frame. Maybe that seems silly, but I guarantee you that if your only assignment when you sit down to write is to describe your book’s setting, or a scene of your main character ordering the coffee that will change her life, or your advice on how to get red wine out of white carpet, then you will not find life’s little distractions so distracting. Because, once you get started on that small assignment you may just find that you are focused and more gets written than just what is in the one-inch picture frame. And if it doesn’t, that’s ok, at least you finished your assignment.
Make sure you have done, or allotted time to do, your chores/errands, unplug, and make small assignments. These are three easy fixes to stop the writing distractions that you have been indulging in lately. Remember, you will never be a writer if you never write anything. And you will never write anything if you sit at your computer watching cute animal videos all day. So do it. Sit down every day, do these three things, and become a writer.
What is your biggest distraction when it comes to writing? Share it with us in the comments section below.