My Top Ten Distractions From Writing

Every writer has them.  Yes, they do. Every writer spends a whole load of time moaning about how there isn’t enough time to write and then, when faced with all the time and opportunity in the world, when all the chores and emails have been cleared and every possible obligation dispatched,  finds spurious reasons not to write.

These are mine.

  1. Investigating that noise. What is that noise?  Where’s it coming from? Somewhere in the house? Upstairs?  Under the stairs?  Ah no, it’s coming from outside. Front or back? If I stick my head out of the box room window and crane my neck at an excruciating angle I can just about catch sight of a fluttering hedge five gardens away and the flash of a tool. What tool?  For what purpose is it being wielded? I had better stay and monitor the situation until the noise goes away.
  2. Practising the piano. I haven’t had a piano lesson in thirty-five years but it’s a nice thing to be able to do and I don’t want to lose it.  I’ve been practising the same piano pieces for thirty-five years too, but, if I keep on practising them, one day I’ll be able to play them almost not badly.
  3. Conducting research on the world wide web.  Say no more.
  4. Trying to recover that brilliant, pithy sentence I wrote a few months ago which was really,really good, but which I decided I didn’t need at the time, but which I’ve now decided I do need, at this very moment in the story, but can’t remember exactly word for word. I could compose a new one, but I know it just won’t be as good. Got to find the original. Which chapter was it from?  Which version of which chapter in which folder on which computer, or memory stick, or external hard drive?
  5. Teasing out the paper ribbons that have escaped out of the sides of the shredder and feeding them back through the centre. I know I was supposed to have cleared all my chores but this one was overlooked and can’t wait.
  6. Going to a cafe. Lots of writers write in cafes. It’s good to be out amongst the hubbub of people. To break free from the stifling, pressurised environment of the writer’s study. It’s good to drink coffee and eat Panini’s and giant jammy dodgers. It’s good to gently push your laptop to one side and observe what’s going on around you. It’s good to run out of battery and just allow your mind to freewheel, even though you’ve no notebook or pen to hand to jot down your thoughts so you don’t forget them. It’s good to come to the conclusion that it really is quite impossible to concentrate in here and your writing time has expired anyway, along with your parking ticket.
  7. Thinking about which agent I’m going to send my book to once it’s finished.
  8. Answering the phone.  Obviously I mustn’t do this. Obviously. It could lead to all sorts of distractions, upsets and complications. Don’t. Really, Claudia, just don’t.
  9. Drinking alcohol. It’s going to help me think more clearly.  It’s going to relax me and open up my subconscious mind.  Mmm, that’s nice. I feel so relaxed now. Kind of sleepy. Actually, you know what?  This wine needs a crappy film to go with it. A novel-in-progress just isn’t the right accompaniment for this particular variety of grape.
  10. Elsie wanting to play. The inspiration behind this blog, which is really just one big excuse to publish the photo below. My favourite distraction of all.


Elsie and me writing

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6 Responses to My Top Ten Distractions From Writing

  1. Linda says:

    Great blog – totally, totally agree.
    My list includes staring out at the garden and deciding a little weeding would help the thinking process. An hour later and my back hurts so I have to have a bath…….with a glass of wine……
    I don’t have an Elsie (who looks adorable) but next door’s dog Earnie (really) has the run of our garden and expects a cuddle and a dogchew every time he comes around.
    There’s probably loads more but emails are my main distraction 🙂

  2. Wili T. Solian says:

    It is all those pesky “researches” that I find myself needing to do once in front of my laptop. I wish I had an Elsie because that is a justifiable distraction. But then again, I will not get anything done if I had an Elsie. Oh, well!

  3. Andy Wilson says:

    Yes I can see alcohol could be a dangerous one, especially in combo with the crappy film.
    My work is a big potential distraction for me because there is a big overlap between scheduled writing/editing time and the period of the day when I field email enquiries and phone calls, order stock and the like. Fortunately I’m in charge so I get to make the rules. First one is I only answer the phone if it’s not going to disrupt me too much. If it’s important, people will always phone back. And emails I try to deal with first thing in the morning and get them out of the way. I imagine the commitment of running a small business is something similar to the day to day demands of raising a family. About half my work is outside, so when I’m doing that the novel has to take second fiddle. I tell myself that the extra years (yes, years) it’s going to take me to finish this project will be worth it, because even if I’m not writing I’m fine tuning things in my head. I hope so.
    I don’t need to think about things like agents because I’m only at first edit. Have to be careful that posting here won’t become a distraction (!) but I think that’s fairly low risk. In mitigation, I get a lot of inspiration reading the posts and replies. Now, back to the editing!

    • claudia says:

      Hi Andy

      I think it’s useful to think through which time of day you write best and then schedule your work, if possible, around that. I’m good for writing first thing after breakfast, so that’s when I steer clear of the phone etc. I flag in the middle of the day so that’s when I attack the housework, dog walking etc. I get a second wind in the evening and that’s when I have to be careful not to hit the bottle for inspiration.

      I’m not sure it would be very productive, quality wise, to sit and write all day long, even if we had the chance.

      • Andy Wilson says:

        Yes, I think I could try that, certainly in terms of having a dedicated writing period so many days a week, with anything else seen as a bonus. At this time of year, morning seems to be a good writing time.

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