Some days I am easily distracted. In fact, in sitting down to write this blog post, I found myself falling down the Google pothole while looking for a cartoon about distraction I saw years ago (I found it. It had to do with ADHD, actually. I went back and forth about whether or not to use it. And then I kept looking. There was this cute cartoon dog…)
Fighting distraction when I want to write has gotten harder for me over the years, not easier. When I wrote my first book, we still used dial-up internet (That was a thing. You literally had to connect your modem to a telephone landline and dial in to get your emails, surf the net). When I sat down to write, I didn’t connect my computer until I finished my session. We also had no children at that point, so I just closed my bedroom door, lit my candle, turned on my music and tuned out the rest of the world.
Here’s a look at my writing life now. Let’s take today for example:
After dropping the kids off at camp, I aim to sit down by 9:30. But wait, I’m hosting a bridal shower tonight and I have a few things to pick up at Sobeys. I arrive home by 9:30, but wait – it’s a hot day today and the plants have to be watered. I’ll sit down after I put the hose away. But wait – I forgot to take the groceries in. And there’s cheese that has to go in the fridge. I’ll sit down after I make my cup of tea. And put the dishes in the dishwasher. And just send that one email – because now I can check my emails, FB messages, iMessage on my computer/iPhone/iPad anywhere in the house!
Guess what? It was 10:30 before I sat down today. Even then, the distractions don’t stop. Camp emailed to say that Isaac didn’t have his water bottle. Did I pack it? I thought I packed it. I have to go check. It’s not there. It’s hot today – what if he’s lost his water bottle and he’ll get dehydrated? Should I run another one over? No, no. Sit and write. They have water fountains. And guess what? Counsellor emails again – sorry, she says, my bad. Wrong camper!
So I sat down to write at 10:30. Then why, at just before noon was I checking FB? I have no business being on FB before 7 p.m.! I should be character sketching. Or more journaling. Or reading the latest book on writing I want to have underlined and bookmarked for brilliant quotes for my class in the fall. But now I’m hungry. And I need to stretch and do my squats. And my phone has just dinged.
Some days I’m better at beating my distraction than others. This is apparently not one of them. On my better days, I hide my phone in the kitchen on do-not-disturb mode and I manage not to check it until 1 pm. I write lists and I follow them, checking off tasks and moving onto the next. In the past, I’ve gone on a FB hiatus. I deleted FB from my phone (fat lot of good that did, as I just access it over Safari now…).
Every writer I know worth their salt seems to wake up at 5 a.m. to do their writing in the quiet and stillness of daybreak. I’ve tried that before. After three or four days I was just tired. And my youngest kept waking up just as I was getting into whatever scene I was working on.
But I understand the romance of writing before the house is stirring. The thrill of being productive before anyone else has woken up. I could try that again. Of course, that means getting to bed earlier and not getting distracted by FB and America’s Got Talent videos when I’m supposed to be sleeping.